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Omicron Symptoms Doctors Say to Watch For Now

These signs of Omicron are alarming doctors.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 was first detected in South Africa in early November 2021 and has since spread across the world. "Essentially, interactions that previously wouldn't have resulted in infection are now making people sick," says infectious disease expert Steven Gordon, MD. "Researchers are still pinpointing exactly how much more infectious omicron is than its predecessors, but at this point, it's clear that omicron is indeed more infectious — which means we all need to be taking additional precautions." Here are five symptoms of Omicron doctors want you to be aware of. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Sore Throat

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Don't ignore that sore throat—it's a common symptom of Omicron. "Especially in people who we're seeing these more mild breakthrough infections, we are definitely seeing sore throat be a predictor in that group," says Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. "Even if it's a sore throat, no matter what it is, I've told my own staff this, it's what I do myself… if you are sick, even a little bit sick, stay home. More true than ever right now because sick, even a little bit sick, until proven otherwise with a test – that's COVID. That's how we treat it, that's how you should treat it."

2

Nausea and Vomiting

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Nausea has been reported as a symptom of Omicron—even in people who have been vaccinated and boosted, says Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London. "Quite a few of them had nausea, slight temperature, sore throats and headaches," Dr. Spector noted.

"You should get tested for COVID-19 if you develop any of the 11 known COVID symptoms," says Shruti Gohil, M.D., associate medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at University of California Irvine Health. "But there are many causes of nausea and vomiting, so you should talk to your doctor to see if you need other testing as well."

3

Cough

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If you have consistent cold-like symptoms, it could be a sign of the Omicron variant. 

"For many people, especially those who are vaccinated and otherwise healthy, Omicron does appear to have relatively mild symptoms, including upper respiratory or cold like symptoms like a runny nose congestion, sneezing, and sore throat—which is relatively common—and headaches," says Laraine Washer, M.D.

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4

Fatigue

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Fatigue is a common symptom of the Omicron variant and should be taken seriously. "The reports show that patients in South Africa—many of whom were young—have had severe fatigue, but no loss of taste or smell," says Lauren Ferrante, MD, Yale Medicine pulmonologist.

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5

General Flu Symptoms

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As so many of the Omicron symptoms overlap with the flu, it's better to stay on the safe side and assume it's COVID-19. "There are people who get severe illness from Omicron," says Dr. Waleed Javaid, director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York City. Dr. Waleed is adamant that anyone experiencing cold or flu symptoms get tested and self-isolate. "It is still a coronavirus. We're still in a pandemic," he says.

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6

How to Stay Safe Out There

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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.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan