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Omicron Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Here's when to seek emergency medical attention.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Earlier this month, the Omicron variant surpassed 95% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Lucikly, Omicron seems to cause less severe symptoms than previous waves of the coronavirus. But any case of COVID can become serious and worthy of immediate medical attention. There are certain Omicron symptoms you should never ignore. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Omicron Usually Mild, But Can Be Severe

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Studies have found that the Omicron variant is much less likely to cause serious illness or death than previous variants, including Delta. But Delta is still circulating—if you test positive, you mostly likely won't know what variant you have—and "less likely" doesn't mean "impossible." So it's important to know which symptoms warrant emergency medical care. 

2

The Most Common COVID Symptoms

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"People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported—ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness," says the CDC. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

"Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms," the agency says.

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3

This Reduces The Risk of Severe COVID

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Three new studies by the CDC have found that booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 90% effective at preventing hospitalization from the Omicron variant. They're also 82% effective in preventing visits to the emergency room or urgent care. "It really shows the importance of getting a booster dose," said the CDC's Emma Accorsi, one of the study's authors, last Friday. "Americans should get boosters if at least five months have passed since they completed their Pfizer or Moderna series, but millions who are eligible have not gotten them."

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4

New Treatments May Be Available

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In a few weeks, doctors will be able to readily prescribe the antiviral drugs Paxlovid and molnupiravir. In clinical trials, they were found to significantly reduce COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths when taken in the first three days of symptoms. The medications are being produced now and are in short supply.

So what should you do if you think you might need more than at-home care? The best advice, experts say, is to call your doctor and tell them your symptoms. They'll advise you what to do next.

But some COVID symptoms indicate a medical emergency. Read on to find out what they are.

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5

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

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Certain symptoms of COVID indicate a medical emergency, including:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • The new onset of confusion
  • Inability to wake up or to stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 or seek emergency medical care as soon as possible.

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6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more