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Headache and runny nose are among the most reported COVID-19 symptoms in adolescents, according to UK data.


Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have been told to pay attention to signs of fever, cough, or loss of odor.

However, new data from the UK Symptom Tracking App shows that COVID-19 infections begin “like a terrible cold” and that headaches and runny nose are among the most commonly reported symptoms in young people. Suggests.

New data include experts concerned about the risk that COVID symptoms will be overlooked as a common cold, especially as winter becomes established in Australia and there was a recent outbreak caused by the delta mutation.

Australian infectious disease doctor Sanjaya Senanayake said the UK data should serve as an important reminder to be tested, no matter how mild the symptoms.

UK findings come from app base ZOECOVID Symptomatology StudySince March 2020, more than 4 million people have used it to track the symptoms and spread of COVID-19.

Principal Investigator Tim Spector said the most frequently reported symptoms have changed in recent months as delta mutants. Became the dominant stock in the UK..

“Since the beginning of May, we’ve been looking at the top symptoms of all app users, but they’re not the same,” said Professor Specter, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London. I will update this month.

According to the data, the most common symptom reported by people under the age of 40 is headache, followed by sore throat, runny nose, and fever.

Cough is currently the fifth most common symptom, and loss of odor no longer falls below the top ten.

“This means that people may think they have caught a seasonal cold, and they still go out to parties and they may spread. [COVID-19] There are about 6 other people. “

“I think this contributes to many problems.”

What Causes the Change in Symptoms?

In England Delta variant According to Public Health England, it currently accounts for more than 90% of sequenced COVID-19 cases.

“This variant seems to work a little differently,” said Professor Specter.

However, he also said that the reported changes in symptoms were most likely caused by changes in the vitality of the sick.

In the UK, the majority of older people are now fully vaccinated, but many young adults are only partially or unvaccinated.

A person holds a smartphone in both hands.
The research app is a scientific analysis provided by King’s College London and was launched by the health company ZOE.(((



Recent data Shows that the number of cases in the UK is increasing most rapidly between the ages of 18 and 34. Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett states that it is likely to affect the types of symptoms reported.

“It’s true that not only the severity of the symptoms, but perhaps the nature of the symptoms, depends on the age group,” said Professor Bennett, director of epidemiology at Deakin University.

“Currently, almost all cases are under the age of 40, so we do not see some of the more typical symptoms of pneumonia seen in the first wave.”

Professor Bennett said it is difficult to measure how much COVID symptoms have changed in different variants because the overall profile of people who get sick has changed since the vaccine was launched.

“Looking at cases in that younger age group before Christmas, they may have had the same symptomatology profile. [as now]But they are only confused with everyone else. “

Epidemiologist Michael Toole agreed that demographics probably play an important role in the various COVID symptoms reported, and said that young people tend to experience milder COVID-19.

“We know that young people of different ages respond differently to respiratory viruses,” said Burnet’s Lab professor Tool.

“Maybe the reaction of this age group is just different.”

Are delta variants presented differently?

However, Professor Bennett said there were some changes to the symptom data, including fewer people reporting odor loss. This is most likely a reflection of the mutation itself.

“If it disappears, it’s one of the features you can’t rely on anymore. It’s going to be a variant feature,” she said.

Why COVID-19 causes some people to lose their sense of odor is still the subject of research, Professor Toole said.

“Some people think that the virus affects the part of the brain that causes the sense of smell, while others think it’s a local reaction of the nose. I’m not sure.”

In one study, he said, delta mutants reduced the body’s ability to produce interferon, a group of proteins released from cells as a defense response to the virus.

“Probably now, as it can have different effects on different parts of the airways. [the virus] It affects the upper respiratory tract, not the lungs. “

Dr. Senanayake said that due to the evolutionary pressure of the virus to survive, some new COVID-19 mutants may also be prone to mild illness.

“The virus doesn’t necessarily want to kill the host, it wants to infect us so that we can continue to replicate,” said Dr. Senanayake of the Australian National University.

“It can explain some of the symptomatic changes seen in the Delta strain.”

Eighteen months after the pandemic, Professor Toole said people could “much more aware” of the symptoms of COVID-19 and report it more easily.

“People may be tested earlier than before … so there may be a shift to earlier testing and diagnosis compared to last year,” he said.

Mild symptoms can be confused with a common cold

In the UK, the recent surge in COVID-19 infections may be due to increased social interactions and the newly predominant, much more contagious Delta strain, Professor Specter said.

“Many people are now aware of the” three “classical” symptoms of COVID-19: cough, fever, and loss of odor. But there aren’t many obvious signs to watch out for, “he said.

“ZOECOVID studies have shown that COVID has at least 20 symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, sore throats, and skin rashes.

Due to the current cold climate in many parts of Australia, Professor Bennett said people are complacent and at risk of confusing COVID-19 with a common cold.

“That’s one of the reasons why winter is a trap. [COVID] It can be obscured by other symptoms. “

She added that it is important to take the mild symptoms of COVID-19 seriously because of the risks associated with the development of long-term COVID.

“The problem is not only the infection, but also that the number of young people affected by these long-lasting recovery may increase,” she said.

“This should be noted as it is known to occur in people with very mild symptoms.”

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