I Have Omicron and This is What it Feels Like
Nobody is safe from getting COVID, including emergency room doctors who wear protective gear and take tremendous precautions to protect themselves. Dr. Rajnish Jaiswal, MD Associate Chief, Emergency Medicine NYC H+H Metropolitan Hospital Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine New York Medical College has been treating COVID patients since the beginning of the pandemic and caught the virus in February of 2020. Two years later he got Omicron from working in the ER. Dr. Jaiswal spoke with Eat This, Not That! Health about what his experience with getting the virus has been like and how it feels to have had both COVID and Omicron. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Difference Between Getting COVID and Omicron
Dr. Jaiswal reveals, "My COVID illness was a lot more difficult to deal with than Omicron. COVID was more severe in comparison. COVID is unforgiving, relentless, persistent and wants to hang out with mankind for a very long time. As for the challenges, I think everything with COVID was unfamiliar and unknown. There was of course the illness that was protracted but also so many questions about short and long term implications. There were not many answers back then. With Omicron I had a better understanding of the disease process as well as the likely course of my illness. Plus the assurance and comfort from the vaccination/booster was a big help. I was vaccinated and boosted before I got Omicron too. It took three weeks to recover from COVD and about one week for Omicron."
Most Challenging Part of Going Through Both Strains
Dr. Jaiswal shares, "I got COVID in Feb 2020. It wasn't even called COVID then, though I suspected that it was the illness that was spreading in Asia. Not knowing what to expect was a lot more challenging. By the time Omicron hit, I had a better understanding of the illness as well as the assurance of vaccination."
What Symptoms Did You Have?
"My Omicron was a much milder form of illness," says Dr. Jaiswal. "I had a runny nose and a mild sore throat that responded well to OTC medications. I received it within a week and feel absolutely fine."
Advice on Avoiding COVID and Managing Symptoms
Dr. Jaiswal says, "My advice is going to be nothing that people haven't heard before. Observing good sanitation habits like washing hands regularly,masking in public/crowded spaces are good practices to follow. Vaccination and periodic boosting is the best way to avoid getting the illness, at least in its most severe form anyway."
Don't Get Complacent
Dr. Theodore Strange, Chair of Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital reminds us, "Although the surge appears to be over in the United States, we must be vigilant especially about mutations and changing strains as other parts of the world are seeing spikes again. It is still unknown how this may affect the United States."
Main Signs of Omicron
Dr. Strange shares, "The main symptoms of an Omicron COVID infection are:
- Runny nose (rhinorrhea) with loss of smell
- Mild or severe fatigue
- Sneezing especially if one has had both vaccine doses
- Sore throat very painful
- Omicron is much more transmissible than influenza. To date, the omicron strain has shown to be a less severe illness."
Dr. Strange states, "The best way to know if one has covid is to test. PCR testing is the most accurate with best sensitivity and specificity for covid. The rapid tests are also fine if positive however if negative and still with symptoms, it is best to take the PCR test. The omicron variant is assumed to be the circulating variant. There isn't a specific test for this type."
Why Natural Immunity Doesn't Work For Everyone
"Natural immunity is always not a bad thing and covers it with the best immunity," says Dr. Strange. "However, with viral illness being very contagious and potentially harmful for persons at risk, like the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, we would want to contain the spread of the disease so as not to overwhelm persons at risk and the healthcare systems."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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