Symptoms of Omicron: the digestive issue that could be a sign of Covid infection

Infection from the Omicon Covid variant can cause “a wide range of symptoms”, including digestive issues

Symptoms of Covid-19 can be wide ranging, with some people experiencing an array of side effects, while others may have none at all.

The arrival of the Omicron variant in the UK has brought new symptoms to light, making infection from coronavirus much harder to spot.

Omicron can cause some to people to suffer with diarrhoea (Composite: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)
Omicron can cause some to people to suffer with diarrhoea (Composite: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)
Omicron can cause some to people to suffer with diarrhoea (Composite: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)

Previous Covid-19 strains, including the Delta variant, predominantly cause three distinct symptoms.

These include a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to sense of taste or smell.

But Omicron has been linked to symptoms that are much closer to the common cold - and in some cases can bring up more unusual effects which can upset your digestion.

What digestive symptom can Omicron cause?

In some cases, infection from Omicon can affect the digestive system and cause some people to suffer a nasty case of diarrhoea.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US has said people with Covid-19 can have “a wide range of symptoms”, and highlighted diarrhoea as a potential symptom.

If you have diarrhoea when you go to the toilet this could be a sign that you have coronavirus, according to the CDC, and it is recommended that people take a test to be sure.

People who have weakened immune systems are most likely to experience diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, and this is likely to occur in the early stages of infection.

Omicron though has been harder to identify as it has been found to blend in with other symptoms of seasonal illnesses such as flu or the common cold.

The NHS recommends drinking plenty of fluids if you have diarrhoea to avoid dehydration and get plenty of rest.

Fizzy drinks and fruit juice should be avoided as they can make symptoms worse.

Taking paracetamol can also help if you are in discomfort.

What other symptoms should I look for?

Omicron has been found to cause milder symptoms than previous strains, with the most common signs being very similar to a cold.

The ZOE Covid study app identifies the following five symptoms as the key signs to look out for:

  • a runny nose
  • a headache
  • sneezing
  • a persistent cough
  • a sore throat

Findings suggest that these symptoms typically occur in the early stages of infection.

If you notice any or start to feel unwell it is important to take a lateral flow test - even if you think it’s just a cold - to check if you have Covid-19.

Regular testing can help prevent spreading the virus to other people.

Omicron has also been linked to night sweats, fatigue, body aches and pains - particularly the lower back - and nausea.

Again, if you experience any of these it is worth taking a test.

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, and leader of the ZOE Covid symptoms study, said: “A lot of the Omicron symptoms, the majority of them are looking like the common cold or some other viral illness, without any of the classic symptoms.

“So do be aware of the main ones. Unfortunately the government hasn’t yet taken this on board and are one of the only government’s in the world not to tell its citizens what the symptoms are.”

Covid-19 symptoms tend to last around five days on average, after which you should start to feel better. If you still have symptoms four weeks or more after having Covid-19 and are worried, you should seek advice from your GP.

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