As hospitalizations continue to tick upwards for Covid, doctors have shared that it is becoming difficult to distinguish between the virus and the common cold or allergies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms that were common with an infection three years ago are being seen less and less, with dry coughs and the loss of taste or smell becoming more rare than common.
Now, health experts say that Covid is causing a much more mild disease, mostly in the upper respiratory tract.
Data published in the recently released Zoe COVID Symptom Study found that symptoms have become more mild since the emergence of the omicron variant in late 2021. Likewise, symptoms such as loss of smell or taste have declined along with hospital admissions, compared to fall and summer 2021.
The report, which uses self-reported data in the U.K., says that a sore throat is the most commonly reported symptom among those with infections.
“It isn’t the same typical symptoms that we were seeing before. It’s a lot of congestion, sometimes sneezing, usually a mild sore throat,” Dr. Erick Eiting shared with NBC News.
Eiting, vice chair of operations for emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York City, shared that almost everyone he’s seen as of late has had relatively mild symptoms. He said a sore throat is typically the first symptom, followed by congestion.
In fact, he said the symptoms are so unlike what was typically known that they almost didn’t catch that their patients had Covid.
“The only way that we knew that it was Covid was because we happened to be testing them,” Eiting said.
So, when it comes to who is being hospitalized now with symptoms being reportedly milder, the CDC says that the 80% increase in weekly average was largely contributed to by those ages 75 and up, followed by babies six months and younger and adults ages 65 to 74.
The U.S. is currently recording approximately 19,000 Covid hospitalizations per week, according to the CDC.
The CDC reported that since January, most people hospitalized for Covid had not received a bivalent booster dose of the vaccine.
Still, cases have continued to decline over the last two years, and a recent study published this month found that the drop in Covid rates began once the omicron variant became the dominant strain of the virus.
Researchers in the study shared that they did not know if milder disease contributed to the trend or if it was caused by population immunity.