(WSVN) - So you get a sore throat and the sniffles. is it COVID-19?  Or is it just a cold or the flu? That’s the big question with the omicron variant. 

We all know the omicron variant symptoms tend to be milder, but doctors said it’s still a serious COVID infection, which is why it’s important to know for sure if you have it.

Omicron is the dominant strain in South Florida, and cases are rising rapidly.

Most patients report having a sore throat, headache and fever.

Many thought they just had a cold.

Robert Goldszer: “There are many, many, many people with infection. Some of those people sadly get sick enough that they have to come to the hospital.”

Chief Medical Officer at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Robert Goldszer said while hospitals are still seeing COVID patients, most cases aren’t as severe.

The omicron variant doesn’t seem to have key symptoms, like a loss of taste and smell.

Robert Goldszer: “And the key big thing is the prior variants, you know, alpha and delta that we had in 2020, and then in December, 2021, those seemed to be more attacking the lungs, seems to be a bigger difference.”

Which is why it’s easy to confuse this COVID variant with the flu or a common cold.

Dr. Goldszer said there are some key symptoms to be on the lookout for which can tell you if your infection might be COVID.

Robert Goldszer: “A couple other differences would be, I think, significant fever with COVID. People are having more fever a day or two, and obviously, if you get significant lung symptoms, if you get bad coughing for a long period of time, any kind of shortness of breath, those things are uncommon with the common cold.”

Regardless, he says if you do come down with cold symptoms, runny nose, sore throat, cough, you need to investigate if it could be COVID. 

Also, have you been around anyone who has tested positive or been anywhere you could have contracted COVID?

Robert Goldszer: “I would tell you, number one is check about your recent contacts. Have you been in a restaurant with dinner? Have you been? Your kids go to school? Do you have any potential contacts with people with COVID?”

And if you have, then you have to get tested.

Robert Goldszer: “You get tested, and you know you’re positive, and you quarantine, and you stay home. You’re not going to give it to other people, so it’s a very, very important public health thing is to have more and better home testing available to people.”

And in the meantime he says any sign of colds or flu or COVID means you need to isolate until you know for sure what you have.

Robert Goldszer: “My suggestions are if you’re sick, stay home, if you’re sick with the common cold, if you’re sick with influenza, if you’re sick with COVID. Stay home. Don’t be going to work. Don’t send your kids to schools. Don’t don’t be interacting with other people.”

The bottom line is if you have a fever that lasts for a couple of days or a bad headache, those are symptoms of omicron that are uncommon for a cold or flu.

But the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox