These Are the 9 Symptoms of the New JN.1 COVID Variant, Doctors Say

JN.1 is the fastest-growing variant in the U.S., according to the CDC.

New COVID variants pop up more often than we'd like, and it's nearly impossible to keep up at this point. However, you should familiarize yourself with details about the latest variant, JN.1, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified as the fastest-growing COVID variant in a Dec. 8 press release.

It was first detected in September, and at the end of October, it accounted for less than 0.1 percent of SARS-CoV-2 viruses. But as of Dec. 8, things changed significantly, as the CDC anticipated that case percentage shot up to somewhere between 15 and 29 percent.

When it comes to COVID symptoms, we know what we can generally expect regardless of the variant we contract, but still, no two cases of the virus are the same. The CDC noted that the type of symptoms and their severity vary from person to person depending on immunity and overall health, and it's not yet known if JN.1 produces different symptoms from other COVID variants.

However, doctors say that there are several symptoms they're seeing amid the rise of JN.1—and with virus activity anticipated to increase, you should take stock of certain signs if you're under the weather. Read on to find out which nine symptoms to pay attention to.

RELATED: 2 COVID Symptoms Now Tied for Most Common Virus Signs, Doctors Say.

1
Sore throat

woman with sore throat
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Similar to what's been reported with other recent COVID variants, a sore throat is on doctors' list of JN.1's symptoms, per a list compiled by Today.com. As previously reported by Best Life, when it comes to the order of symptoms, a sore throat is generally one of the first to appear, healthcare professionals say.

2
Congestion

congested man lying on couch blowing nose
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If you're feeling particularly stuffed up, it could be a sign of a COVID infection, doctors say.

These days, congestion normally sets in after you notice a sore throat, William Schaffner, MD, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Parade.

3
Loss of smell or taste

Woman trying to sense smell of fresh tangerine orange
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In September, Grace McComsey, MD, vice dean for clinical and translational research at Case Western University, told NBC News that she'd seen a decline in patients reporting loss of taste and smell. At the time, only 10 to 20 percent said they experienced this, which was a stark comparison from the 60 to 70 percent of patients who reported loss of taste and smell at the beginning of the pandemic.

However, a loss of taste and smell is now back on the symptom list, meaning it could indicate you're infected with the virus.

RELATED: Doctor Reveals COVID Symptoms in Patients Who Haven't Gotten a Fall Booster.

4
Cough

Young man coughing into a napkin
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Another symptom you might experience is a cough, according to Today.com. Earlier this month—following the rise of another variant, HV.1—Linda Yancey, MD, infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Hospital, told Parade that COVID symptoms are starting to look more and more like other upper respiratory tract infections, which generally include a cough.

Schaffner also told the outlet that a "dry hacking cough" is a symptom. While other symptoms clear up after five to seven days, this kind of cough can stick around "for one to two weeks, sometimes longer," he said.

5
Runny nose

man with runny nose
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Your nose could also be runny with a COVID infection, doctors say. As Schaffner told Parade, this symptom typically comes after you've had a sore throat.

6
Fatigue

sick woman feeling fatigued
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We're all feeling a little worn out during the holidays, but if you're feeling particularly beat, take stock of your symptoms. As doctors told Today.com, fatigue continues to be one of the consistent signs of COVID.

RELATED: Doctor Reveals the New COVID Variant Symptoms You Can See on Your Face.

7
Headache

A senior woman standing up and grabbing her head from dizziness or a headache
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Patients are also reporting headaches amid the uptick in JN.1 cases, so don't ignore lingering pain combined with any other symptoms.

According to a June 2023 study published in the  Journal of Clinical Virology, headache is a common COVID-19 symptom, affecting 26 percent of patients. Researchers also found that those younger than 50 with other "mild upper respiratory viral symptoms" in outpatient settings (like the emergency room and COVID-19 respiratory clinics) were prone to COVID-induced headaches, as were Hispanic patients.

8
Fever or chills

Ill man covered with blanket.
iStock

One of the clearest indicators that you're sick in general is a fever, which is another symptom of JN.1, as with other variants. If you have chills as well, take note, per Today.com.

9
Muscle aches

Woman on a bed with a headache.
iStock

You might also be feeling achy if you've been running around holiday shopping and wrapping presents, but distinct muscle aches are also a symptom of COVID. As Schaffner told Parade, muscle aches and fatigue typically come after that initial sore throat and congestion.

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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