Omicron or Just Winter Cold? How to Know from The Symptoms

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Omicron or Just Winter Cold? How to Know from The Symptoms

With winter underway and cases of Omicron surging nationwide, you may be wondering if that runny nose or aching throat is a dreaded case of COVID-19 that’s finally tracked you down, or if it’s merely a symptom of the common cold or winter cold.

Omicron – the new, highly transmissible variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus – has taken the world by storm, driving up daily Covid-19 numbers in exceptional measures. But how can you tell if you have Covid, or a winter cold?

What are the Covid symptoms I should act on?

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) says people should still look out for classic Covid symptoms:

  • new continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature
  • loss of or change to smell or taste

But for some people, having Covid can feel “more like a bad cold” with symptoms such as a headache, sore throat and a runny nose. Some of the top symptoms are:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • fatigue (either mild or severe)

Can we still differentiate between winter cold and Covid-19?

A common winter cold and Omicron is impossible to distinguish with the basic symptoms. However, here are a few general symptoms of Covid-19, influenza, and the common cold, arranged according to their frequency:

Dry cough: Covid-19 (frequent), flu (frequent), cold (occasionally)

Fever: Covid-19 (frequent), flu (frequent), cold (rare)

Stuffy nose: Covid-19 (rare), flu (sometimes), cold (frequent)

Sore throat: Covid-19 (sometimes), flu (sometimes), cold (frequent)

Shortness of breath: Covid-19 (sometimes), flu (not observed), cold (not observed)

Headache: Covid-19 (sometimes), flu (frequent), cold (not observed)

Body aches: Covid-19 (sometimes), flu (frequent), cold (frequent)

Sneezing: Covid-19 (not observed), flu (not observed), cold (frequent)

Exhaustion: Covid-19 (sometimes), flu (frequent), cold (sometimes)

Diarrhea: Covid-19 (rare), flu (sometimes), cold (not observed)

Wrapping Up…

Even so, the best advice given by healthcare professionals, as always, is to get tested and self-isolate at home in case symptoms appear. People with coronavirus have a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Some will have none at all, but can still be infectious.

Significantly, Omicron does seem to infect the lung a lot less than what Delta did, with a predilection of the upper airways and pharyngeal tract, says the critical care specialists at Phoenix Hospital, Ahmedabad.

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