This Strange Symptom at Night Could Mean You Have Omicron, Doctors Warn
Doctors are warning people to get tested for COVID if they experience this.
From loss of smell and taste to shortness of breath, we're well aware of the standard symptoms of COVID. But the virus has steadily evolved from its original form, and with it, so have the symptoms it might cause. A new variant called Omicron is estimated to make up more than 95 percent of COVID infection in the U.S. right now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Doctors are now warning that the signs of this version of the virus may be a little different from the way COVID has presented in the past. In fact, experts say there is one new symptom that is popping up more and more with the Omicron variant. Read on to find out the strange sign you should be on the lookout for at night.
Night sweats could be a symptom of the Omicron variant.
If you find yourself sweating unusually during the night, you might have COVID. "People are reporting night sweats, which is a very strange symptom that they say they're having," John Torres, MD, an emergency room doctor and a NBC News senior medical correspondent, told Today on Dec. 28.
Night sweats can be caused by the Omicron variant, despite not being a common symptom with prior strains of COVID. According to CaroMont Health, night sweats is not a general symptom of the original version of SARS-CoV-2 or even of the recent Delta variant, but is now being considered a general symptom of Omicron.
Doctors say you should get tested for COVID if you notice unusual sweating at night.
Night sweats are "repeated episodes of extreme perspiration … related to an underlying medical condition or illness," and not just the result of you sleeping under too many blankets or in a room that is too warm, per the Mayo Clinic. Amir Khan, GP, a doctor for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, told The U.S. Sun that people who have this symptom because of COVID are likely to experience "those kind of drenching night sweats where you might have to get up and change your clothes."
According to Khan, night sweats is a clear sign you should get tested for COVID, especially if you are not prone to sweating profusely at night. "This is important, and it's important that we keep on top of these symptoms. If we are going to track Omicron and track it worldwide, we need to be able to test people with these symptoms," he said.
Omicron appears to be producing more cold and flu-like symptoms.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, night sweats can also be a sign of a cold or the flu—but that's not surprising, given the other symptoms associated with an Omicron infection. Per the UK Zoe COVID Study App, the five most common symptoms for the new variant include a runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and sore throat. Most of these are also signs of both the flu and a cold, according to the CDC.
"A common cold and Omicron is, in my view, impossible to distinguish," Eskild Petersen, MD, a doctor for Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and chair of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, told The National.
This is why many doctors are pushing people to get tested for COVID if they experience any of these symptoms. Knowing whether or not you have the coronavirus can keep you from spreading it to others, especially those who might be more at risk for severe illness because of their vaccination status or comorbidities. "The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus," the CDC warns, adding that the agency "expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don't have symptoms."
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Many patients are not experiencing classic COVID symptoms with the new variant.
If you're having any of these symptoms but are still waiting on a cough or loss of smell and taste to get tested—don't. Doctors are warning that the new Omicron variant isn't likely to produce some of the formerly classic coronavirus signs. "The majority of people testing PCR positive have cold-like symptoms, and they don't have the classical triad of the old COVID symptoms of fever, loss of smell and taste, and persistent cough," Tim Spector, an epidemiologist and founder of the Zoe COVID Study App, told Sky News.
Prior research has suggested that nearly half of patients infected with the original strain of COVID experienced loss of smell, and 41 percent had loss of taste. Meanwhile, a small analysis of an Omicron outbreak among vaccinated people in Norway found that only 23 percent reported loss of taste and just 12 percent reported loss of smell.
"Don't wait for temperature, loss of smell, cough—more than 50 percent of people in London never get these symptoms, and yet they're testing positive," Spector warned.