While BA.2.12.1 is currently the dominant COVID-19 subvariant in the U.S., cases of BA.4 and BA.5 are rising steadily. Experts say that the prevalence of new variants means that many people will be reinfected by COVID-19.
“It’s expected that there’s probably not much cross-protection between them,” says Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert. “That’s what you expect from this viral family. The virus will continue to evolve to reinfect us at will.”
That’s why it is important to know the most common symptoms of the new circulating variants, to take note of unusual symptoms, and seek evaluation if you are not sure of the cause, says Eat This, Not That!.
- Fever. Many people report that they have chills and a fever as their first sign of illness from COVID-19.
- Cough. A persistent cough is another frequent sign of COVID-19. “If the cough is accompanied by a fever, fatigue and body aches, you may want to consider testing for COVID-19,” says Dr. Loras Even of UnityPoint Health. “We’re especially concerned when a cough worsens, is associated with a fever, or causes breathing problems. Patients experiencing these symptoms should come in for an evaluation.”
- Headache and fatigue. These symptoms are two of the most common signs of COVID-19, according to health company ZOE, which runs a symptom tracking app for COVID-19. “Only 9% of COVID-positive adults aged 18-65 didn’t experience headache or fatigue,” says the company. “Our data shows that the most commonly experienced early symptoms are actually headaches (82%) and fatigue (72%).”
- Loss of smell and taste. With the current omicron variant, loss of smell and taste are less common symptoms than they were with earlier variants. “There’s a risk of temporary, and less commonly, permanent loss of smell with any viral infections,” says Dr. Raj Sindwani. “Things get swollen, and the odors just are not getting to the smell receptors that live high in the nose. It happens with the common cold and frequently it happens early in COVID-19 cases as well.
- Vomiting and stomach issues. According to WebMD, in addition to the other common symptoms of COVID-19, a recent study showed that 1 in 5 people who tested positive for the disease had at least one gastrointestinal symptom, such as diarrhea, vomiting or belly pain. Of those hospitalized, 25.9% had gastrointestinal issues.
If you do experience any of these symptoms, get tested and be kind to your body.
“Symptoms can last up to six weeks for most people, so it is important to take care of yourself if you do test positive for COVID-19. Recovery times vary tremendously depending on age and health issues,” says Dr. Rita Lantner-Tarrash, a Florida-based urgent care expert. “Rest, eat and sleep well, stay hydrated and listen to your body.”
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