Hidden inside the good news about the coronavirus—that cases, hospitalizations and deaths are going down—is a stark reality: the Delta variant remains "more transmissible" than any COVID variant before it, and 65 million Americans, including small children, are left unvaccinated—and thus vulnerable. "The more we've learned about COVID, we've learned that it not only impacts the lungs, but can impact the nervous system, the cardiovascular system. It can impact the kidneys, impact many systems in our body. This is a serious infection," said the Surgeon General Vivek Murthy just yesterday. With breakthrough infections also a possibility, it behooves us all to stop the symptoms of a Delta infection early. Read on for the key symptoms of the Delta variant—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
You May Lose Your Sense of Taste or Smell
Before COVID, few of us had ever heard of anosmia—the loss of your sense of smell—or ageusia, the loss of your sense of taste. Now, chances are you know someone who has had this problem, or are at least aware of it. A COVID case can result in either—and if you have "Long COVID," these senses may take months to return, if they do at all.
You May Have "Cold-Like Symptoms"
Congestion, sore throat, headaches and a fever are quite common among those who are getting Delta. (You can also have more severe symptoms.) This can be difficult to spot in kids, who are generally snot-nosed this time of year. "With the Delta variant, we are seeing an increased number of cases among children," says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, Pediatric Infectious Disease at the Mayo Clinic. "Children who are eligible to get vaccinated should get vaccinated."
You May Have Any of These Symptoms
"Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19," says the CDC:
"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
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
Inability to wake or stay awake
Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone."
RELATED: This is Where COVID Will Surge Next
Here are the Most Common Symptoms if You are Vaccinated
Breakthrough infections are considered rare but they do happen. "The people who do come down with the virus are likely to get symptoms," says Dr. Ross McKinney Jr., Chief Scientific Officer at AAMC. "The usual COVID symptoms—congestion, headache, low-grade fever and loss of sense of smell. However, the symptoms appear to be shorter in duration and the length of time you're shedding virus appeared to be shorter."
What to Do If You Fear You Have a Delta Infection
Simply put, Delta is more dangerous. "The spike proteins stick out from the surface of the virus particle and help it latch onto and enter our cells. Any mutation that helps the virus do that more efficiently is going to drive a virus that can transmit from one person to the next better," says Professor Wendy Barclay, Head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, get a COVID test ASAP. Doctors prefer the "gold standard" PCR test but are also recommending rapid tests and at-home kits, which you will start to find more frequently in drugstores. Otherwise, follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, and don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.