Healthcare experts have repeatedly warned against gathering for the holidays, but now that Christmas is here, it's clear some Americans are committed to having holiday gatherings. If you do intend to see people outside of your household, make sure you're at least monitoring yourself for potential coronavirus symptoms. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said the one subtle symptom of COVID you should look out for before heading out is a loss of smell. Read on for more on why you should pay attention to this telltale sign, and for more overlooked symptoms, If You Have These 2 Subtle Symptoms, There's a Good Chance You Have COVID.
While many COVID symptoms could be easily confused with symptoms of other ailments—such as the flu, a cold, or allergies—there is one symptom that tends to be unique to the virus. "Obviously, the early symptoms of COVID-19 disease are very similar to a flu-like syndrome," Fauci told The Washington Post's Robert Costa during a Nov. 23 interview. But if you experience anosmia, the loss of smell, you should take that as a hint to stay home for the holidays.
"Many people now have this curious loss of smell and taste" when infected with COVID-19, Fauci said. A study out of University College London published in October found that 80 percent of COVID patients experienced a loss of smell, which makes it one of the most telling indicators that someone has coronavirus rather than another illness.
"Our findings show that loss of smell and taste is a highly reliable indicator that someone is likely to have COVID-19," study leader Rachel Batterham, MD, said in a statement. If you notice a loss in your ability to smell everyday odors "such as garlic, coffee, and perfumes," you should self-isolate and seek testing, according to the statement.
Fauci has been among the medical experts advising against gathering with anyone outside of your household for the holidays. As he told Wolf Blitzer on Dec. 22, "I don't want to [cancel Christmas]. I want people to be more careful. I want them to limit traveling to the extent possible."
The NIAID director warned that the winter holidays might spread COVID more than anything else has. "I think it could be even more of a challenge than what we saw with Thanksgiving," Fauci said in a Dec. 7 interview with CNN's John Berman. With that in mind, Fauci says that if you are experiencing a loss of smell, make the wise decision to stay home.
During his interview with Costa, Fauci also pointed to other subtle symptoms that mean you should skip out on the holidays. "If any of [the following] symptoms appear, people should be careful," said Fauci. "Stay home, try to get tested if you possibly can to know whether or not you're infected." Read on for the other COVID symptoms the infectious disease expert said to look for, and for more essential guidance, Dr. Fauci Says to Limit Your Holiday Celebrations to This Many People.
Fauci warned that if you experience "something like a sore throat, kind of a scratchy feeling," you should stay home. A sore throat has been acknowledged as one of the common symptoms of COVID by the CDC. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
It can be easy to attribute your tiredness to a host of other issues, but Fauci warns people to be on the lookout for the sneakier, more subtle COVID symptoms like fatigue. "If someone comes in and says, 'You know I kind of feel bushed today … I feel a little achy,' that's a tell-tale sign," he said. And for more subtle symptoms, These 4 Easy-To-Miss Symptoms Could Mean You Have COVID, Experts Say.
If you're feeling achy, it may be a sign you should get a COVID test. According to a survey completed by a group of COVID patients called the Body Politic COVID-19 Support Group, 83.5 percent of patients experienced some form of body aches when they had COVID. And for more unusual coronavirus signs, This Strange Symptom May Be the Earliest Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.
A stuffy nose could be a sign of benign allergies or a simple sinus infection, but with COVID circulating, you can't be sure that your congestion is not a symptom of something more. Fauci pointed out that "some fullness in your upper airway" could be a symptom of coronavirus. And if you've been coughing, This Is How to Tell If Your Cough Is COVID, Doctors Say.