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Signs Your Symptoms May Be COVID

Knowing the signs can save your live.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The Delta variant of coronavirus is proving far more transmissible than previous strains. Why? It latches onto you better. "The spike proteins stick out from the surface of the virus particle and help it latch onto and enter our cells. Any mutation that helps the virus do that more efficiently is going to drive a virus that can transmit from one person to the next better," says Professor Wendy Barclay, Head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London. She's working with Tim Spector, ZOE COVID Study lead, on looking at how the symptoms of Delta vary from previous coronaviruses. Here is the current ranking of COVID symptoms after 2 vaccinations—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


You May Have a Headache

Young woman have headache migraine stress or tinnitus

"Even though headaches are a less well-known symptom of COVID-19, they are one of the earliest signs of the disease and more common than the 'classic' symptoms of cough, fever and loss of smell (anosmia)," sais the Zoe Symptom Study. "It's important to remember that headaches are very common, especially as many of us are staring at screens for so long each day. So although many people with COVID-19 experience headaches, most people with a headache will not have COVID-19."


You May Have a Runny Nose

Woman blowing her nose into tissue

"While symptoms like cough, fever and loss of smell are common in those who test positive for COVID-19, we found that having a runny nose and sneezing was only very slightly more common in people who tested positive for COVID-19 than those who tested negative," say the authors. "The likelihood that your runny nose is caused by COVID-19 is influenced by how prevalent the disease is at the time."

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You May Be Sneezing

Man sneezing into his elbow.

Say the authors: "Sneezing is not normally a symptom of COVID-19, and much more likely to be a sign of a regular cold or allergy. Even though many people with COVID-19 might sneeze, it's not a definitive symptom because sneezing is so common, especially in the warmer months where people might experience hay fever. However, data from the ZOE COVID Study suggests that sneezing more than usual can be a sign of COVID-19 but only in people who've been vaccinated."

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You May Have a Sore Throat

Woman experiencing first Covid-19 symptoms throat pain breathing problems on sofa

"Covid is … acting differently now, it's more like a bad cold," says Spector. "People might think they've just got some sort of seasonal cold, and they still go out to parties … we think this is fuelling a lot of the problem. So, what's really important to realise is that since the start of May, we've been looking at the top symptoms in all the app users, and they're not the same as they were. So, the number one symptom is headache … followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever."

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You May Have a Loss of Smell

Portrait of young woman smelling a fresh and sweet nectarine

"Anosmia or changes in smell are likely to occur alongside fatigue (tiredness) and headaches. It can also come together with fever, sore throat and a persistent cough. Older people are also likely to skip meals and have unusual muscle pains."

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You May Also Experience These Symptoms

Says the CDC: 

"Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone"

If you feel these things, contact a medical professional and get tested for COVID. 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek