Sore throat? Runny nose? Common Omicron Symptoms You Should Know About – NBC Chicago

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Breakthrough coronavirus infections are on the rise in Chicago and Illinois, but health experts say it’s likely the symptoms you’ll experience will depend on the vaccine.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr Allison Arwady, the top doctor in town, said the omicron variant doesn’t necessarily bring a new set of symptoms, but with the vaccines now widely available, many are aware of milder cases, depending on their vaccination. status.

“The symptoms we’re seeing are no different with omicron than they were with delta, than they were with the original. It’s just that we’re seeing more of what we call breakthrough infections. “Arwady said Wednesday. “So vaccines continue to protect, but not as well against infection, although they continue to protect beautifully against serious disease.”

Arwady said now those who are fully vaccinated do not necessarily get “seriously ill and have fever for days and difficult breathing” but instead suffer from milder illness.

“They may only feel like they have a cold,” she said. “This is good because they don’t get seriously ill, they don’t threaten the health care system, but it is certainly concerning as they have the potential to pass on to others.”

The unvaccinated, however, show similar symptoms at the start of the pandemic, Arwady said.

“Unvaccinated people present the same: fevers, cough, chills, shortness of breath,” she said.

Arwady’s comments echo those of other medical experts who are monitoring omicron cases.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Katherine Poehling and member of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee, told NBC News last week that cough, stuffiness, runny nose and fatigue appear to be prominent symptoms of the variant. omicron. But unlike delta, many patients do not lose their taste or smell.

The evidence to date, according to Poehling, is anecdotal and not based on scientific research. She also noted that these symptoms may reflect only certain populations.

Still, CDC data has shown that the most common symptoms so far are cough, fatigue, stuffiness, and runny nose.

In New York City, where cases continue to rise, an emergency room doctor who rose to prominence on social media during the pandemic for his documentation of the battle against COVID, reported groundbreaking cases he has seen in those who received booster shots and exhibited “mild” symptoms.

“By mild I mean mainly sore throat. Lots of sore throat”, Craig Spencer wrote on Twitter. “Also a little tired, maybe muscle aches. No difficulty breathing. No shortness of breath. All a little uncomfortable, but it’s okay.”

Cases in people who were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, but not boosted, remained mild, but slightly more intense.

“More tired. No more fever. No coughing. A little more miserable overall. But no shortness of breath. No difficulty in breathing,” he wrote.

For those with Johnson & Johnson who were not boosted, he wrote that the patients “felt awful”, with fever, fatigue, cough and shortness of breath, but did not need to. ‘hospitalization or oxygen.

In the unvaccinated, however, symptoms were more severe.

“Almost all of the patients I have cared for who needed to be admitted for Covid have not been vaccinated,” Spencer wrote. “Anyone who suffers from profound shortness of breath. Anyone whose oxygen has dropped while walking. Anyone who needs oxygen to breathe regularly. “

Dr Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first sounded the alarm about the new strain, told the BBC she started seeing patients around November 18 with “unusual symptoms” which differed slightly from those associated with the delta variant.

“It actually started with a male patient who was about 33 years old … and he told me he had just finished [been] extremely tired the last few days and he has body aches and headaches, ”she told the BBC.

The patient did not have a sore throat, she said, but rather a “itchy throat” but no cough or loss of taste or smell – symptoms that have been associated with previous strains. of the coronavirus.

Coetzee said she tested the male patient for COVID, and he was positive, as did her family, then said she saw more patients that day with the same types of symptoms that differed from the delta variant.

Other patients she had seen so far with the omicron variant had also experienced what she described as “extremely mild” symptoms, and she added that her colleagues had noted similar cases.

Likewise, in the first case in the United States, the president’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, said the person was vaccinated but had not received a booster and had “mild symptoms.”

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told CNBC that the omicron symptoms reported in South Africa may not be a good predictor of the virulence of the variant in other parts of the world, as the country has a population much younger and healthier than European countries and the United States.

For now, Arwady has urged anyone with a cold to assume it is COVID until tests prove otherwise.

“I would rather people be wrong in assuming right now, with the numbers as they are, whatever this new symptom is, that it’s probably COVID,” she said.

According to the first results of a study from Imperial College London in the UK, there is no evidence that the omicron variant is less severe than the delta variant based on the symptoms reported.

“The study finds no evidence of omicron having a severity below delta, judged either by the proportion of people who test positive who report symptoms or by the proportion of cases requiring hospital care after infection,” said Friday a research team led by Professor Neil Ferguson. in a blog post accompanying the study.

The data included 24 hospitalizations of patients suspected of having the omicron variant, the researchers saying “data on hospitalizations remains very limited at this time.” The study has not yet been peer reviewed.

In Illinois, hospitalizations have increased.

Allan Spooner, CEO of Franciscan Health South Suburban Chicago, said Monday that COVID-19 cases in hospitals in the system had increased four times in the past three weeks – from 10 to 42 percent. More than 70% of intensive care patients have COVID-19, including 30% requiring a ventilator, he said.

Infections among doctors and staff have also increased as the latest surge rises, Spooner said, “exacerbating an already precarious staff shortage in healthcare.”

Rex Budde, president and CEO of Southern Illinois Healthcare, reinforced a similar message.

“The first thing we can do is get vaccinated,” he said.

Budde said 40% of medical beds at Carbondale Hospital are occupied by COVID patients. As is the case in other health systems, he said, to treat COVID patients, the hospital has had to withdraw resources from other parts of the facility and delay treatment for others. , including stroke and cardiac care patients.

“People are dying from this virus who don’t need to die,” he said. “Imagine being a nurse, doctor or care technician who has to look at this and manage it every day. The staff are exhausted. The nurses are exhausted. The doctors are exhausted. “

Despite some reported differences between omicron and delta, Chicago experts say it’s not enough to just look at the symptoms.

“The thing is, you won’t be able to tell the difference between omicron, delta, lambda, simple COVID from the start,” said Dr. Emily Landon, infectious disease specialist and chief epidemiologist at the University of Chicago. Medicine. “The flu or even the common rhinovirus causes most of our colds in the winter. You won’t know the difference between these if you just look at your symptoms. For a lot of people, these symptoms overlap. have some parts of the Venn diagram like taste, loss of taste and smell, or the common COVID than those other things, there’s a lot of overlap. You just won’t know, especially at the start of a disease, what kind of disease you have. You have to get tested. “

And getting tested won’t necessarily tell you if you have the omicron variant, Landon said.

“When you take a COVID test, they’re just looking to see whether or not you have COVID,” she said. “They’re not on what type to determine the exact strain of COVID. You have to do this thing called sequencing, which takes a lot longer. It’s a lot more intensive. You sure can’t get that back in 24 hours, and this is only done by specialized laboratories. “

Overall, the symptoms of COVID reported by the CDC include:

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


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