What Are the Symptoms of Omicron, the New Covid Variant?

Gastrointestinal symptoms occur more often in children than in adults, Dr. Lighter said, but they can happen in adults too. The virus can infect some cells in a patient’s gastrointestinal tract, which would lead to stomach issues like diarrhea, Dr. Pekosz said. Respiratory infections in general may cause people to produce more phlegm as they cough; swallowing that phlegm can then also irritate and upset the stomach.

Fatigue is one of the more common Covid symptoms, both with Omicron and with previous variants of the virus, Dr. Lighter said. However, usually if someone is experiencing symptomatic Covid, fatigue will not be the only symptom.

To distinguish Covid-related fatigue from general weariness or exhaustion, pay attention to whether it comes on more suddenly, Dr. Pekosz said. “We get run down during the day,” he said, “but if it increases really quickly, that’s a sign that it isn’t just, ‘I didn’t have my coffee this morning.’”

Indeed, many Covid-19 symptoms vary depending on a person’s vaccine status. Maya N. Clark-Cutaia, an assistant professor at the New York University Meyers College of Nursing who has been following up with Covid-19 patients throughout the pandemic, said that vaccinated patients with Delta or the original coronavirus tend to present with headache, congestion , sinus pressure and sinus pain, while unvaccinated patients are more likely to have shortness of breath and cough, along with flulike symptoms.

With Omicron, Dr. Clark-Cutaia said patients she’s talked to in Pennsylvania are presenting with similar symptoms to Delta. Vaccinated Omicron patients complain of headaches, body aches and fever – “like a really bad cold,” she said. Unvaccinated people have the same shortness of breath, cough and flulike symptoms she saw among unvaccinated people with Delta and the original coronavirus.

Omicron seems to have a shorter incubation time than other variants – after a person is exposed, it takes as few as three days for them to develop symptoms, become contagious and test positive compared with four to six days with Delta and the original coronavirus, said Dr. Waleed Javaid, the director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York City. That could be because the variant’s mutations help it attach to and go inside cells, he added.

Some encouraging, emerging research shows that Omicron may cause less damage to the lungs, resulting in less severe disease than previous iterations of the virus. Early evidence from Europe also suggests Omicron may cause milder symptoms. In December, three separate research teams concluded that the variant was less likely to send patients to hospitals.

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