The Omicron variant has been generating a lot of headlines over the past month - and much is still unknown about this version of COVID-19. However, we are increasingly seeing more clarity emerging when it comes to the symptoms that indicate Omicron, what sufferers tend to experience and also how this tends to affect the body in terms of the ears, nose and throat. This is what we know so far.
What is the Omicron variant?
It’s a variant of the original COVID-19 virus that was identified on 24th November this year. The first case was reported in South Africa and on the 26th November the World Health Organization designated Omicron a variant of concern. Most experts believe that Omicron will likely spread more quickly than the original Delta variant of COVID and it’s this ease of transmission that has many people worried. We also know very little about how Omicron will affect the body, whether vaccines are effective and how to protect against it.
Omicron vs Delta
Dr Angelique Coetzee is a South African doctor, chair of the South African Medical Association and also one of the first medical professionals to suspect that the country had a new COVID variant on its hands. She identified that some of the people in her clinic were showing symptoms that were not the same as the original Delta variant of COVID. While Dr Coetzee’s reporting on medical symptoms is still relatively minimal it’s virtually the only data that is currently available in terms of the differences between Omicron and Delta - and how the new variant exists in terms of ENT.
Omicron and ENT
One of the main symptoms of the new Omicron variant is a dry, scratchy, sore throat. So far, none of the patients being monitored in South Africa have reported a loss of taste and/or smell, which is one of the major symptoms of the Delta variant and the most significant ENT impact it has. Most of the patients who have tested positive for the Omicron variant also have a dry cough, which seems to be another significant symptom of this new version of COVID. The other most noticeable symptoms affect areas away from the ear, nose and throat. In particular, patients have reported muscle aches and feeling extremely tired. While these symptoms have been highlighted as clinically different from those that tend to present with the Delta variant of COVID they are also very similar to many other seasonal conditions, such as the flu.
Apparently mild symptoms
Although we are still only in the very early stages of identifying what Omicron is really capable of, so far the reporting from South Africa is that symptoms have been mild. The new variant has also not appeared to cause the same drop in oxygen levels as Delta and most of the South African patients have been able to be treated at home.
The new Omicron variant comes with symptoms that significantly affect the ears, nose and throat - including a scratchy, sore throat and a dry cough. If you think you might have caught the variant then it’s vital to get tested straight away.
Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.