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How to tell the difference between the common cold and the omicron variant

The common cold and the omicron variant might produce similar symptoms. Here’s how to tell the difference

Travelers get tested for COVID-19.
Travelers wait in line to get tested for COVID-19 at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021
Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

The omicron variant of the coronavirus has become the dominant strain in the United States, arriving at a time where the flu and common colds are running rampant.

  • So how do you distinguish between the two?

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, told Yahoo! News that it’s not easy to distinguish the omicron variant symptoms from the common cold.

  • The only COVID-19 symptom that doesn’t show up with a common cold is the loss of smell, Barrett said, but that’s not a “useful tool to differentiate between the two.”
  • That’s why self-diagnosis is not a safe option for finding out if you have COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 test is the best way to determine if you’re infected with the omicron variant.

The omicron variant will appear more like the common cold because it likely acquired a mutation — from a snippet of genetic material that is normally found in the common cold, according to Reuters.