Coronavirus: typical symptoms of COVID-19

Coronavirus: typical symptoms of COVID-19

There is now a lot of data on the typical symptoms of a coronavirus infection and the frequency and severity of the symptoms of COVID-19. Even if infections can be symptom-free, some signs point to COVID-19 disease. However, it is essential to know that many of these symptoms can also occur with other illnesses, such as the flu or a cold. If in doubt, however, you should always exercise caution in the current situation and carry out a rapid antigen test or seek medical advice if you notice any of the following symptoms.

Typical symptoms include cough and fever, but temporary loss of smell and taste has long been a vital sign. According to current knowledge, what are the most common symptoms that occur with a COVID-19 infection, how exactly do they appear and is an infection with the omicron variant accompanied by changed symptoms?


The most common symptom of COVID-19 is a dry (“unproductive”) cough. This is a cough without mucous sputum. In contrast is the “productive” cough, which is accompanied by the expectoration of mucus from the bronchi. In addition to coughing, shortness of breath can also occur. If shortness of breath occurs, medical advice should be sought immediately, or, depending on the severity of the symptoms, an emergency call should be made.

Coughing is also a common symptom of infection with the omicron variant.


According to information from the Robert Koch Institute, around 30 per cent of all COVID-19 infections reported in Germany had a cold as a symptom. This makes a cold the second most frequently registered symptom of infection with COVID-19. Infection with the omicron variant can also lead to increased sneezing.


Since the spread of the omicron variant, fever has been a caution: infection with this mutation of the coronavirus causes fever somewhat less frequently than other variants or the wild type of the virus, even if fever is still a common symptom. Nevertheless, paying more attention to other symptoms, such as headaches and coughs, is essential.

Disturbance of the sense of smell and taste

If your nose is blocked with a cold or the flu, your sense of smell or taste may be impaired. In the case of an infection with the coronavirus, the disturbance or temporary loss of the sense of smell and taste also occurs independently of a blocked nose. The reason for this is damage to the olfactory epithelium, i.e. the olfactory mucosa in the nose.

Loss or impairment of the sense of smell and taste has long been one of the most typical symptoms of COVID-19. However, these symptoms occur less frequently in the case of an infection with the omicron variant.

Sore throat

Initially, sore throats were not a common infection symptom with the coronavirus. However, with the spread of the delta and finally the omicron variant, sore throats with COVID-19 are now significantly more common.

muscle and joint pain

Many affected people who have previously been infected with the coronavirus complain of muscle and joint pain as part of the disease. Some studies indicate that these symptoms are about twice as common in infections with SARS-CoV-2 as in influenza or colds.

tiredness and exhaustion

Many sufferers report extreme tiredness and exhaustion through slight disturbances of consciousness (somnolence). Numerous cases now also show that this tiredness can last for weeks or even months after infection with the coronavirus has been overcome. This so-called “post-COVID syndrome” could be a form of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).


Diarrhea has occasionally been observed as a symptom in people infected with COVID-19. This can also be accompanied by weight loss.

nausea and vomiting

In addition to diarrhoea, some sufferers have reported nausea and vomiting. According to a study by Queen’s University in Belfast, these symptoms are prevalent in children and adolescents suffering from COVID-19.

Bruises and rashes

Bruises were found in some of those affected, especially in the area of ​​the fingers and toes. Other skin rashes, such as pustules, redness, and papules, have also been seen in people confirmed to have COVID-19. Combined with other symptoms, this can indicate an infection with the coronavirus. However, skin changes due to disease are relatively rare, according to current knowledge.

Swollen lymph nodes

Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck, are a typical sign of an immune response. If pathogens appear in the lymphatic system, special white blood cells, the so-called lymphocytes, are produced in the lymph nodes. If the lymph nodes swell, this can be a sign of an infection with the coronavirus and another illness, such as a cold or flu. In upper respiratory tract diseases, the lymph nodes in the neck or behind the ears are particularly often swollen.


Some of those affected developed conjunctivitis, i.e. inflammation in the area of ​​the eyes, at the same time as the infection with the coronavirus. According to recent study results, it can lead to dry or reddened eyes and a foreign body sensation.

COVID-19 Symptoms in Children

As part of a 2020 study by Queen’s University in Belfast, children aged two to 15 found abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting as typical symptoms of infection with COVID-19 in addition to fever and almost a quarter of the children examined also suffered from headaches. About 50 per cent showed no symptoms, especially young children who were asymptomatic. Adolescents were more likely to show symptoms that are also typical in adults. These include cough, fever, and loss of taste and smell.

In infections with the omicron variant, children often show symptoms of a respiratory disease, such as coughing or a runny nose. Disorders of the sense of smell and taste also occur less frequently with them.

Rarely, children can develop the so-called Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIM syndrome) about four to six weeks after infection with COVID-19. This is shown by high fever, skin rash, inflammation of the mucous membranes, reddened hands and swollen lymph nodes. Overall, PIMS is rare in children as a result of COVID-19.

Headache in COVID-19

Headaches can also occur as a symptom of COVID-19. These are often not accompanied by fever but can be accompanied by other symptoms of the disease, such as coughing or a runny nose. In a Spanish study with 112 subjects, around a quarter of the participants complained of headaches during the infection. The majority described the headaches as oppressive, and about 50 per cent said that they got worse with movement.

Headaches are widespread when infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Then, the symptoms usually precede other symptoms.

Corona tongue

When evaluating patient diaries in 2021, British researchers from London’s King’s College came across another symptom that can occur in COVID-19: the so-called “corona tongue”. Experts speak of this when unusual coatings, swellings or spots on the tongue become visible due to the infection. Other inflammations or redness in the mouth can also occur during the disease. According to current knowledge, these symptoms can last for several weeks.

Corona tongue is still very rare. In addition, other diseases, such as bacterial or viral infections and fungal diseases, can also trigger changes in the tongue.

complaints of the ears

According to recent study results, an infection with SARS-CoV-2 could also cause ear problems. These include ringing in the ears, dizziness due to disturbances in the inner ear, and hearing loss.

symptoms in pregnancy

A study from 2020 suggests that the symptoms of a corona infection during pregnancy can differ slightly from the usual ones. After analyzing various studies, researchers found that hospitalized pregnant women had fewer symptoms such as shortness of breath, muscle pain and fever than non-pregnant women.

To what extent the findings of this study can be transferred to the omicron variant has yet to be discovered.

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