This one symptom could be your first sign of omicron, doctors warn! There is a good chance you will experience this symptom early in your infection. It’s important to watch for this.
The number of COVID cases in the Europeans and the United States is still higher than ever before. Health officials say the number of infections this week is up more than 33 percent from last week. From new cases to breakthrough infections and reinfections, the Omikron variant accounts for an estimated 98 percent of current cases, authorities said. This version of the virus is spreading faster than any other COVID variant before, and it’s hitting people in other ways, too. Virus experts warn of a number of symptoms typical of Omikron, including the first signs you might notice. Read on to find out which Omikron symptom you are most likely to encounter.
This symptom could be the first sign of an omicron infection
Sore throat has been reported as a common symptom of some earlier COVID variants, but with Omicron, doctors say it’s likely your first. “For most people, a positive Omicron case will feel more like a cold, starting with a sore throat,” Tim Spector, professor of epidemiology at King’s College London and founder of the Zoe COVID Symptom Study, told the BBC in December.
This common symptom may be even more apparent in certain groups of people infected with Omicron. Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, told NBC 5 Chicago that while sore throats occur early everywhere, they are most common as an indicator of Omicron in vaccinated or boosted individuals.
“In people where we see these milder breakthrough infections, sore throat is definitely a predictor in that group,” Arwady said.
This symptom is very striking in its expression
Sore throat can be an indicator of a number of diseases, but omicron sore throat is distinctive. Dr. Jorge Moreno, an internist and assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, told Insider in early January that many of his patients reported the same initial symptom when his Connecticut outpatient clinic was flooded with new omicron infections: a dry, sore throat that caused severe pain when swallowing.
“It’s a very noticeable symptom,” Moreno told the news agency. “It’s not like a little tickle in the throat. When they report it, they say their throat feels raw.”
This is just one of the most common symptoms of this variant.
Sore throat is just one of the many symptoms that can occur with Omicron. According to data from Spector’s Zoe COVID Study app, there are five common symptoms reported with this variant: runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and sore throat. Runny nose and sneezing were not the most common symptoms in previous variants, but “the most commonly reported symptoms of Omicron are really very similar to a cold,” Claire Steves, PhD, a King’s College London researcher studying Zoe, acknowledged in a Jan. 6 video.
These symptoms are also common
Headaches and fatigue are common symptoms with other strains of the virus, but with this variant, there could be some distinct presentations. Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told Prevention that Omicron headaches are “more frontal,” meaning they are felt in the front of the head rather than the back. And Angelique Coetzee, a private physician and president of the South African Medical Association, told Reuters that severe fatigue from Omicron usually lasts “one to two days.”
Symptoms are likely to appear a few days after exposure.
In previous variants, it typically took four to five days for symptoms to appear in infected patients. However, Dr. Ryan Noach, CEO of South Africa’s largest private health insurer Discovery Health, said preliminary research suggests Omicron has a shorter window, and symptoms of the variant typically appear three days after exposure, the Washington Post reports.
Doctors also say you should probably wait that long to determine if you’ve been infected after exposure because the incubation period may be shorter. “If you’ve been exposed to the virus and are now wondering, ‘When should I get tested?’ ‘ I think you should wait at least three days to see if you’re positive,” Schaffner told NBC News.