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Omicron, Delta, cold, or flu? The most common symptoms

January 12, 2022, 4:45 PM UTC

If you’re experiencing a sore throat, runny nose, or fever, you’re likely wondering which illness you have.

While the Omicron and Delta variants continue to drive COVID cases globally, many of the symptoms are similar to the typical cold or flu.

Some differences appear to be emerging in COVID symptoms (including variants), common colds, and influenza.

Using information from scientific studies, medical professionals, and health organizations like the CDC, Fortune’s team has put together this chart showing common reported symptoms for each.

For instance, those with Omicron are more likely to report mild symptoms and less likely to lose the ability to taste and smell than those with Delta. You might experience a longer fever or night sweats with Omicron compared with the common cold.

It’s important to remember that symptoms vary case by case, and this chart is far from definitive. We will update with new information as it occurs. If you’re experiencing symptoms, reach out to your doctor for guidance, and get tested for a definitive diagnosis. (Click the chart for an enlarged view.)

Fortune; AAFA

Here’s a breakdown of the typical symptoms for each, as reported by the CDC, scientific studies, doctors, and experts:

COVID-19: Delta variant

Cough: Common (dry)
Runny nose: Common
Sneezing: No
Sore throat: Common
Shortness of breath: Common
Fever: Common
Night sweats: No
Chills: Common
Headache: Common
Loss of smell: Very Common
Fatigue: Common
How long symptoms take to show up: 4 to 5 days

COVID-19: Omicron variant

Cough: Less Common
Runny nose: Common
Sneezing: Common
Sore throat: Common
Shortness of breath: No
Fever: Less Common
Night sweats: Sometimes
Chills: Less Common
Headache: Common
Loss of smell: Less Common
Fatigue: Common
How long symptoms take to show up: 2 to 3 days

Flu

Cough: Common (dry)
Runny nose: Sometimes
Sneezing: No
Sore throat: Sometimes
Shortness of breath: No
Fever: Common
Night sweats: No
Chills: Common
Headache: Common
Loss of smell: No
Fatigue: Common
How long symptoms take to show up: 2 days typical, 1 to 4 possible

Cold

Cough: Common (mild)
Runny nose: Common
Sneezing: Common
Sore throat: Common
Shortness of breath: No
Fever: Short fever only
Night sweats: No
Chills: No
Headache: Rare
Loss of smell: No
Fatigue: Sometimes
How long symptoms take to show up: 1 to 3 days

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