2 COVID Symptoms Now Tied for Most Common Virus Signs, Doctors Say
If you start to feel under the weather, keep an eye out for these telltale symtpoms.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt like the symptoms to watch out for were constantly changing, and often easy to confuse with other respiratory illnesses. But even now, while we have a much better understanding of the warning signs, no two bouts of COVID are the same—and cases can range from mild to severe. Among the most recent infections, however, doctors say two symptoms are consistently reported. Read on to find out the most common COVID symptoms to keep an eye out for this holiday season.
A new variant is "highly transmissible."
Speaking with Today.com, William Schaffner, MD, professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, warned that a new descendant of the Omicron subvariant, HV.1, is "highly transmissible." Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that, as of Nov. 25, HV.1 accounted for 31.7 percent of U.S. COVID infections.
With that in mind—and with holiday gatherings on the horizon—you'll want to be extra sure you know the symptoms you should pay close attention to.
As David Cutler, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Parade, you need to be wary of a sore throat and nasal congestion, which are currently the two most common COVID symptoms.
Signs are similar to other respiratory diseases.
What makes things more complicated is that these symptoms are the same ones we'd associate with a common cold or the flu, which can make it difficult to determine what you're sick with unless you undergo testing, Linda Yancey, MD, infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Hospital, told Parade.
"Sadly, COVID symptoms are beginning to resemble those of most of our other upper respiratory tract infections," she said. "They almost all have congestion, cough and a sore throat."
If your symptoms follow a pattern, they may point to COVID.
According to Schaffner, you may be able to distinguish COVID from other viruses thanks to a pattern it appears to be following.
"At present, COVID is presenting first with a sore throat, soon followed by nasal congestion, a runny nose and feeling run down with fatigue and muscle aches," he told Parade.
Schaffner noted that this isn't a universal pattern, however, and some patients might have all of these symptoms appear at once. If you are sick with COVID, you can expect to feel run down for about five to seven days, he said, and if you've got a pesky "dry, hacking cough," that could stick around for two weeks or more.
This isn't the first time we've heard about symptom progression. Back in September, doctors identified a similar pattern, noting that COVID is now primarily affecting the upper respiratory tract, starting with a sore throat and moving on to congestion.
Other symptoms are less common now.
Also in September, doctors noted that they weren't receiving as many reports of a dry cough or loss of taste and smell—two of the bigger symptoms during the early COVID days.
As Grace McComsey, MD, vice dean for clinical and translational research at Case Western University, told NBC News, only about 10 to 20 percent of her COVID patients were reporting loss of smell or taste, which was a sharp drop from the 60 to 70 percent who reported it at the start of the pandemic.
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