Unmasking COVID-19: A Guide to the Latest Symptoms

COVID-19, the illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been a shape-shifting foe since its emergence. New variants have kept us on our toes, and with them, questions about the latest symptoms. This article tackles your concerns, providing an up-to-date picture of the evolving landscape of COVID-19 symptoms and addressing some of the most common Google searches about YouTube and COVID-19.

Classic COVID-19 Symptoms: Still Relevant

While new variants may introduce wrinkles, the core COVID-19 symptoms remain largely unchanged. These include:

  • Fever or chills: A persistent feeling of feverish heat or chills is a telltale sign.
  • Cough: A dry cough is a frequent symptom, though some people experience a productive cough with mucus.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing: This symptom can be alarming and necessitates seeking medical attention.
  • Fatigue: Feeling exhausted is a common complaint.
  • Muscle or body aches: Aching muscles throughout the body can be a telltale sign.
  • Headache: Headaches are a frequent symptom, ranging from mild to severe.

Beyond the Basics: A Spectrum of Symptoms

COVID-19 can manifest in a multitude of ways. Here are some additional symptoms to be aware of:

  • Loss of taste or smell: This can be a very early symptom and can sometimes occur without other noticeable symptoms.
  • Sore throat: A scratchy or painful throat can be a sign of COVID-19, especially alongside other symptoms.
  • Congestion or runny nose: These cold-like symptoms are becoming more frequent with newer variants.
  • Digestive issues: Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea can occur in some cases.
  • Loss of appetite: Feeling less hungry than usual can be a symptom.

It’s important to remember that not everyone experiences all these symptoms, and the severity can vary greatly.

Omicron and Beyond: Variant-Specific Symptoms?

New variants can introduce slight variations in the symptom profile. With Omicron, for instance, some studies suggest a higher prevalence of:

  • Runny nose: This cold-like symptom seems more frequent with Omicron compared to earlier variants.
  • Sore throat: Similar to a runny nose, sore throat appears to be a more prominent symptom with Omicron.
  • Less frequent loss of taste or smell: While still a possibility, this hallmark symptom seems less common with Omicron.

However, it’s crucial to remember that these are trends, not absolutes. You can’t definitively diagnose a variant based on symptoms alone.

Children and COVID-19: Unique Considerations

Children can experience COVID-19 differently than adults. While they can develop the classic symptoms, some more frequent presentations in children include:

  • Fever: This is a common symptom in children with COVID-19.
  • Fatigue: Children may appear more tired or listless than usual.
  • Headache: Headaches are a frequent complaint in children with COVID-19.
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea: Digestive issues can be more prominent in children than adults.
  • Rash: A skin rash can be a sign of COVID-19 in children, though less common.

If your child experiences any concerning symptoms, consult a healthcare professional.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you experience any of the following COVID-19 symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

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

These symptoms can indicate a serious illness and require prompt medical evaluation.

COVID-19 Testing and Diagnosis

If you experience any concerning symptoms, getting tested is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of common testing options:

  • Viral tests (PCR, rapid antigen): These tests detect the presence of the virus and are used for diagnosis.
  • Antibody tests: These tests detect antibodies produced by the body in response to the virus and can indicate a past infection but are not used for current diagnosis.

Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate testing option for you.


Q: What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 can resemble a cold or flu, including:

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

Q: How are the symptoms of the latest COVID-19 variants different?

Dominant variants like Omicron often present with symptoms more akin to a common cold, including runny nose, sore throat, and congestion. However, fever, cough, and fatigue can still occur. It’s important to remember that anyone can experience a range of symptoms, regardless of variant.

Q: How long does it take for COVID-19 symptoms to appear?

Symptoms of COVID-19 typically show up within 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Some people might not develop any symptoms at all (asymptomatic).

Q: When should I seek emergency medical attention for COVID?

Look for these emergency warning signs and seek immediate medical help:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, greyish, or blue-coloured skin, lips, or nail beds (depending on skin tone)

Q: How can I tell the difference between COVID and allergies or a cold?

While some symptoms overlap, there are a few distinctions:

  • Loss of taste or smell is more common with COVID.
  • Allergies typically cause itchy eyes and sneezing, while COVID usually doesn’t.
  • Colds often come with a runny or stuffy nose, whereas COVID might cause congestion but not a lot of mucus discharge.

Q: What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

  • Get tested for COVID as soon as possible.
  • Isolate yourself from others while you wait for results and if you test positive.
  • Monitor your symptoms and contact your doctor if they worsen.

Additional Resources:

  • Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Symptoms of COVID
  • World Health Organization (WHO): Coronavirus disease (COVID) advice for the public.

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