COVID-19 Omicron Variant: 7 Subtle Signs You’ve Already Had COVID-19 Omicron Without Knowing It, Study Says

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2. You lost your sense of smell or taste at one point.

Loss of smell and taste has been a big hallmark of COVID-19. While this symptom doesn’t occur for everyone, Dr. Adalja points out that it’s now strongly linked with the novel coronavirus.

Preliminary data from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) found that, in COVID-19 patients who lost their sense of smell, 27% had “some improvement” within about seven days, while most were better within 10 days.

Worth noting: It’s also possible to temporarily lose these senses with other respiratory conditions, like a cold, the flu, a sinus infection, or even with seasonal allergies. But experts say that the symptom can linger in some people and last for months after recovering from COVID-19.

3. You’ve been dealing with unexplained hair loss.

This hasn’t been widely studied in the context of COVID-19, but many people who have recovered from the virus are reporting issues with hair loss. Actress Alyssa Milano, who has been suffering from COVID-19 symptoms for months, shared a video of herself on Instagram in early August repeatedly brushing out large clumps of hair after she showered.

Members of Survivor Corps, the Facebook support group for people who have had COVID-19, have also talked about experiencing hair loss months after recovering from the virus. It’s due to a condition known as telogen effluvium, and it can be caused by a slew of factors, including pregnancy, extreme stress, weight loss, and illnesses other than COVID-19, Dr. Adalja says.

It’s unlikely that you would just lose more hair than usual without having other COVID-19 symptoms, like a cough or fever, Dr. Adalja says. It’s also important to note that hair loss can happen from stress in general, he says—and there’s been a lot of stress due to the pandemic. If you’re experiencing hair loss, it’s possible it’s due to an unknown COVID infection, a build-up of stress during uncertain times, or another underlying issue.

4. You feel breathless sometimes.

Research published in the journal JAMA has found that people with COVID-19 can have after-effects of the virus, including shortness of breath. It’s not entirely clear why at this point or how long this can last, but it’s likely due to lasting inflammation in the lungs.

“This is one of the well-known lingering effects in people who were diagnosed with COVID-19,” Dr. Schaffner says. “If you have this, well, perhaps that illness you experienced before was actually COVID.” If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, call your primary care physician for guidance or ask for a referral to a pulmonologist. They can often prescribe medications and treatments, like an inhaler, that can help, Dr. Schaffner says.

5. You have a cough that will not go away.

A lingering cough is another symptom that people who participated in the JAMA study reported. The cough is often dry, meaning that nothing comes up, like like phlegm or mucus, Dr. Adalja says. This is fairly common: Data from the CDC found that 43% of people who had COVID-19 still had a cough 14 to 21 days after getting a positive test for the virus.

6. You’re really, really tired.

This is one of the biggest lingering effects after a person has COVID-19, according to the JAMA study. That study found that 53% of patients said they were struggling with fatigue around 60 days after they first showed signs of the virus.

“We’re seeing some people who had mild illness who have fatigue for some period of time,” Dr. Adalja says. But, he says, it’s not entirely clear right now why this happens. It could be the way a person’s immune system reacts to the virus, or it could simply be the way the virus works in the body.

Keep in mind that fatigue is a really common issue and can be a sign of many different health issues (including, of course, not getting enough sleep). Like hair loss, people who experience fatigue due to COVID-19 would have also had other symptoms of the virus in the past, Dr. Adalja says.

7. You have unusual symptoms that seem to be lasting forever.

Experts stress that COVID-19 is still a new virus, so doctors and scientists are learning more about it all the time. Research on lasting effects of the virus is ongoing, and it’s difficult for doctors to say at this time that having certain symptoms could mean you had a COVID-19 infection, while others don’t, Dr. Adalja says.

It’s worth mentioning that some people have experienced heart issues after contracting the virus. One small study of 100 people who recovered from COVID-19 that was published in JAMA Cardiology did MRIs on former patients and found that 78% had some kind of abnormal heart finding, independent of any pre-existing conditions. This also didn’t seem to be linked to severity of illness, the researchers found. That could show up in a lot of different ways, including random heart palpitations, Dr. Schaffner says, but it could also be unnoticeable.

Of course, there are plenty of other complications that experts may not even know about yet. If you’ve been feeling off and your symptoms are persistent, Dr. Schaffner says it’s a good idea to get checked out by your doctor, whether you think it’s related to COVID-19 or not.

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