Covid: How mild and serious Omicron symptoms differ - and when you should get help

By Neil Shaw & Joshua Hartley & Surena Chande

Coronavirus rates continue to increase across Nottinghamshire and the rest of the country.

Most of the new cases are to do with the Omicron variant - and it means that the majority of people only experience mild symptoms.

However, there are thousands of people in hospital with Covid - and medics warn it can still be very serious, the Mirror reports.

Omicron appears to generally be milder than Delta, partially because of mutations to the virus and partially because of vaccinations.

But doctors have warned there are symptoms you need to watch for that will tell you if your condition is more serious.

The NHS asks people to look out for a fever, and loss of taste or smell as signs of Covid.

The ZOE study, which monitors Covid symptoms across the country, says that more than 50% of people who think they have a cold will have Omicron Covid thanks to its common symptoms of a scratchy throat and runny nose.

Other reported symptoms have included conjunctivitis, hair loss and pale grey or blue-coloured skin, lips and nails.

Southampton-based GP Dr Reena Virdi and Dr Gareth Nye, a lecturer of anatomy and physiology at the University of Chester's Medical School, spoke to The Mirror to set out exactly when you should speak to a medical professional.

Dr Virdi said: "It is important to seek medical advice if your symptoms worsen and become unmanageable. For instance, feeling short of breath, tight chested, dizzy or faint, particularly on minimal exertion or at rest.

"In this case you should call your GP, 111 if it is out of hours, or attend the emergency department/call an ambulance if symptoms are very severe."

Dr Nye said a warning sign signalling you may need medical help would be "when you have difficulty in breathing whilst moving around".

"This means the amount of oxygen getting into your blood isn't enough and can make you tired, dizzy and weak. If you try and push through this you may essentially run out of useable oxygen and you may collapse."

Dr Nye suggests a Covid sufferer goes to A&E when "this breathing difficulty impacts you whilst sitting down".

He adds: "Additional danger signs are the presence of blood in what's being coughed up, your breathing has suddenly gotten worse or you have any rash that may be associated with meningitis."

If you have an oximeter in your home, get to A&E if your blood oxygen level is below 92.

Dr Nye says if you are pregnant: "It's a good idea to inform your midwife team, but the signs are as above or your normal pregnancy warning signs. These include reduced foetal movement or vaginal bleeding."

There are other symptoms to watch for in children.

  • Meningitis symptoms
  • Struggling to breathe or short of breath
  • Stiff neck
  • Rash
  • Wanting to be in the dark
  • Unusually cold hands/feet
  • Pale skin
  • Drowsy and hard to wake

Dr Virdi said: "Evidence is showing that those who are up-to-date with vaccines tend to have much milder 'cold-like' symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, congestion, headache and fatigue.

"In some cases, and more so for those unvaccinated, the symptoms may be more severe such as a cough, more fatigue, fever, breathlessness."

When your symptoms feel manageable, Dr Virdi says: "The advice remains to order a PCR test online or via 119, and isolate till results return."

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