The Top COVID-19 Symptoms Have Changed

The Top COVID-19 Symptoms Have Changed

For more than two years, the world has seen the evolution of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19. From people on ventilators to asymptomatic carriers, COVID-19 affects everyone differently. We’ve also seen breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals and reinfection among the unvaccinated and vaccinated. It continues to be an evolving situation, as do the top symptoms

The UK-based Zoe Health Study (formerly the COVID Symptom Study) recently identified the most common COVID-19 symptoms among current infections. This study based the findings on the information from more than four million people who used a special app to report signs of infection. The recent analysis found that infections from omicron sub-variants result in symptoms that mimic those of the common cold or flu. Symptoms may vary depending on vaccination status, underlying health conditions, and overall health. 

Coronavirus symptoms from earlier variants now rank lower on the list of the most common symptoms. Loss of smell (or other sensory changes from COVID-19), shortness of breath, and fever are less common among newer infections. And although vaccinated individuals can still contract COVID-19, the study found that the symptoms were much more mild among them, or that they experienced very few symptoms. Additionally, vaccinated individuals got better more quickly. 

Top COVID-19 Symptoms Among Those Who’ve Received Two Vaccine Doses

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Persistent cough
  • Headache

Researchers in the Zoe study found that vaccinated people who tested positive for COVID-19 reported sneezing. If you are vaccinated and start sneezing a lot without explanation, consider getting a COVID test as you may be infected. This will help reduce the risk of spreading the virus to those around you, some of whom may be in worse health than others. 

Top COVID-19 Symptoms Among Those Who’ve Had One Vaccine Dose

  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Persistent cough

Zoe study editors observed that persistent cough was one of the original symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Among the most recent data, though, it ranks lower than sneezing and runny nose, two symptoms that were originally thought to be unrelated to COVID-19 infection.

Top COVID-19 Symptoms Among The Unvaccinated

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Persistent cough

According to the Zoe study, loss of smell is still in the top 10 symptoms for unvaccinated individuals who contract COVID-19. It ranks at number nine, but shortness of breath (an original symptom) now ranks at number 30. 

Why Have The Top Symptoms Changed?

The data from the Zoe study is consistent with what many clinicians have observed in COVID-19 patients over the past few months. Why the shift in symptoms is not entirely clear, though. Infectious disease specialists think that the change in top symptoms is multifactorial. The virus has evolved over time in order to maximize transmission and higher levels of immunity in the population (attributed to vaccination and prior infection). 

Cough, Cold, Or Flu? It May Be COVID-19

We covered that symptoms of recent omicron infections tend to mimic those of the common cold or flu. Because of that, people who experience those symptoms may not think that they have COVID, especially since they weren’t common symptoms earlier in the pandemic. If you do experience those symptoms, especially if they are respiratory symptoms, it is wise to test to confirm infection. COVID-19 is still a relevant illness, despite the fact that nearly all restrictions have been lifted. Take care of your health, get a new bivalent COVID-19 booster this fall if you want to, and be safe during the upcoming holiday season. 

2022-11-02T16:12:20-07:00

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