Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, recently said that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be causing more mild symptoms. "Omicron appears to be very transmissible," he said on air. "Though there is early evidence it may be causing less severe illness." For many people, these can include flu-like symptoms. But COVID can cause a range of symptoms, and severe disease is still possible—especially if you're unvaccinated. Here's what Gupta has reported are common signs of COVID, some particularly unusual and debilitating. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Early in the pandemic, Gupta mentioned that studies had found that nearly half of early COVID patients in Wuhan, China, reported digestive symptoms as one of the first signs of their illness, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and loss of appetite. "Sometimes the early symptoms aren't these classic symptoms," he said.
Loss of Smell and Taste
"Loss of smell—anosmia—seems to be another symptom that any of these patients often develop," said Gupta. "They don't know if it's related to the upper respiratory virus part of this or what but anosmia, maybe linked to loss of taste, maybe linked to loss of appetite. We're not entirely sure, but it's clearly something to look out for."
Gupta reported on one 47-year-old man who was healthy and fit, but found himself hospitalized with COVID, "with a left lung filled with blood clots and a brain stuck in a deep fog. Indeed, he felt like he was losing his mind. The splitting headaches and overwhelming fatigue convinced him his brain was on fire."
COVID can cause a raft of neurological problems. "Although estimates vary, studies have found that at least half of people who recover from COVID-19 continue to suffer from neurological symptoms for months after," wrote Gupta. "Brain scans of patients, compared with scans of those who've never been infected, show structural and functional changes to the brain."
Long COVID Symptoms
"SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 — is a tricky virus: Some people aren't aware they're infected at all, while others are hospitalized and some die," said Gupta. "And a growing group of people get sick and then never fully recover. In support groups, they sometimes refer to themselves as long-haulers."
The symptoms are wide-ranging. Gupta reported on one woman who, months after her initial illness, reported "terrible sinus pain, nausea and loss of appetite, bone-crushing fatigue, dizziness, a burning sensation in her chest, a dry cough, brain fog, confusion, concentration issues and problems with word retrieval."
Pro Tip: Get Vaccinated
"While some of these variants have been shown to evade vaccines to some extent, research shows even with the breakthrough infection, vaccinated people aren't as likely to get as sick with COVID 19," said Gupta recently. "So if you haven't been vaccinated, get vaccinated now. And the CDC says all adults should also get a booster shot six months after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine are two months after a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine."
Watch Out For These Symptoms, Too, And Stay Safe
The CDC warns that "symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.