Are COVID symptoms changing with new variants? Chicago’s Best Doctor Explains – NBC Chicago

Are COVID symptoms changing with newer omicron subvariants now spreading across the US?

According to Chicago’s top physician, the answer remains unclear. Arwady noted that milder cases of the virus can make determining symptoms more challenging.

“We’re seeing a lot of COVID that is generally quite mild,” she said, although she added that some early studies may show more intense disease specifically with the newer BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

“With BA4 and BA.5 in particular, there have been some animal studies that have shown, for example, a little more of what we call pathogenic, a little more problematic, like in some animal lungs and things where the tests were done – mice , etc.”, said Arwady. “And potentially BA.4, BA.5 could be a little more intense, but overall I think, you know, if you’re vaccinated and boosted, I just say thank God you’re vaccinated and boosted if you’re having You know, significant symptoms, because that’s a sign that you could have gotten even sicker.”

According to the CDC, the following are symptoms of a COVID infection:

  • fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Arwady said that while the symptoms don’t seem to be changing, there’s a misconception she wanted to clear up.

“We went on… for some reason people have been telling me that they don’t think you lose taste and smell with omicron. You can lose taste with omicron too. We’ve seen a lot of people have this temporary loss of taste and smell, which remains the most specific, like if someone has lost their taste or smell, I’m like, ‘This is COVID.

Another trend seen as newer variants spread is that more people are receiving multiple negative COVID tests before finally testing positive after exposure or symptoms, Arwady said Thursday.

The reason behind the change could be due to vaccines.

“We think part of this is because, especially if people are fully vaccinated and or if they’ve had COVID before, they’re not always… said Allison Arwady. “They don’t learn as much about an immune response and sometimes it can take a little longer for that test to come back positive. The good news is, generally… if the home test is negative, you’re not very likely to have enough virus to spread, to be contagious”.

Arwady noted that PCR tests are more sensitive than home tests, but said anyone with symptoms or who may have been exposed should mask themselves for a full 10 days, regardless of test results.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “positive self-test results are highly reliable.”

Negative results, however, may not rule out infection, particularly in those with symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC states.

The CDC recommends that those who test negative retest 24 to 48 hours after the first test.

“Consider repeating the test 24 to 48 hours later,” the guidance states. “Multiple negative tests build confidence that you are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”

While PCR tests may be more effective at detecting the virus, some people who contract COVID-19 may have detectable virus for up to three months, although that does not mean they are contagious.

When it comes to testing, PCR tests are more likely to continue catching the virus after infection.

“The PCR test can remain positive for a long time,” Arwady said in March.

“These PCR tests are very sensitive,” he added. “They keep getting dead virus in their nose sometimes for weeks, but you can’t grow that virus in the lab. You can’t spread it, but it can be positive.”

The CDC notes that the tests “are best used early in the course of illness to diagnose COVID-19 and are not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to assess duration of infectivity.”

For those self-isolating due to a COVID infection, there is no testing requirement to end isolation, however the CDC recommends using a rapid antigen test for those who choose to have one.

The CDC says those with symptoms should get tested immediately. Those who have been exposed but have no symptoms should get tested five days after exposure.

According to previous CDC guidance, symptoms of COVID can appear two to 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus.

Anyone showing symptoms should get tested for COVID-19.

Some people may never show symptoms, although they can still spread the virus.

A person is also considered contagious before symptoms appear.

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