How to Treat Omicron Symptoms at Home (June 2022).

All current cases in the U.S. are caused by the Omicron variant, and, in particular, a lineage of Omicron known as BA.2. The good news is that “Omicron seems less likely than Delta to cause serious disease,” says Timothy Brewer, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Omicron also tends to cause symptoms a little sooner than Delta did—about two to three days after infection rather than four or five.

According to WHO, BA.2 now represents nearly 94% of all sequenced cases and is more transmissible than its siblings, but the evidence so far suggests it is no more likely to cause severe disease. Only a few dozen cases of BA.4 and BA.5 (Omicron sub-variants) have been reported to the global GISAID database.

COVID-19 Omicron Variant Symptoms

The range of possible symptoms is wide but centers on the upper respiratory system. Because BA.2 replicates more in the airways above the lungs rather than deeper inside those organs, physicians are seeing less chest and lung inflammation and more sore throats and congestion. Achiness, coughing, shortness of breath and fever are also common.

What are the first symptoms of omicron? "Initial symptoms appear to be related to a scratchy or sore throat, often quite mild," according to Susan Huang, M.D., the medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at UCI Health in Orange County. "Other early symptoms are sneezing, or a runny nose — both of these often cause infected individuals to think they are suffering from allergies or a mild cold, which they hope is not COVID."

Because these symptoms can easily be mistaken for a common cold, especially during a time when travel restrictions are being lifted, many choose not to seek out a COVID-19 test initially — until other symptoms present later down the road. This is likely how BA.2.12.1 is spreading quite rapidly; in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut alone, the viral subvariant is tied to upwards of 70% of new infections alone, per recent reports.

Related: How to Prevent Getting Omicron Variant

Take a Test

Between 48 and 72 hours after potential COVID exposure or at the first sign of any symptoms, people should take either a rapid antigen or PCR test. “There should be a very low threshold for testing yourself to see whether you have COVID or whether you have something else,” says Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. COVID can look very like a cold, influenza or allergies, but the treatments for each are different.

PCR tests are more sensitive but harder to get, and taking a rapid antigen test at home usually suffices, the experts say. If the first test is negative, people should wait two days (behaving cautiously in the meantime) and take another one as Myers did. If it is COVID, the viral load will increase in that time. “Nothing in life is perfect, nor are the rapid antigen tests, but they’re pretty darn good at picking up contagious levels of virus,” says Lucy McBride, a practicing primary care doctor in Washington, D.C. (Lists of free test locations are available on the Test to Treat locator Web site provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)

When people test positive, it is a good idea for them to call a primary care physician if they have one. Doctors can provide guidance on treatment and update medical histories. They will also report the result to public health authorities so that it is included in case counts. At a minimum, people should track the date that symptoms began and the date of a positive test.

Over-the-Counter Help

Most people who get COVID will be just fine at home. “If you’re vaccinated and boosted and generally healthy, people do very well,” McBride says. Over-the-counter medications will not treat COVID directly but can help manage symptoms. Doctors recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) to bring down fevers and relieve achiness. Early in the pandemic, there were reports that ibuprofen made COVID worse, but those have not been substantiated. NSAIDs are only intended to be taken for short periods, however, because they have more side effects than acetaminophen, and they are not safe for everyone. People who take other medications should consult with a doctor before taking NSAIDs. Antihistamines or cold medications such as DayQuil can be used to relieve congestion and cough.

All over-the-counter medications should be taken as needed and not beyond recommended dosage instructions (some cold medicines already include acetaminophen). “The dose and frequency really depend on the patient’s underlying health conditions and should be discussed with the person’s doctor,” McBride says.

Getting enough rest is critical, as is drinking enough fluids, which prevent dehydration and reduce cough. 

Having a pulse oximeter at home would also be useful to calculate the amount of oxygen in a person’s blood without having to draw a blood sample. If oxygen levels fall below 95 per cent, that would be a sign to visit the hospital.

Thermometers, tissues and hand sanitizer are other supplies often recommended to keep at home while experiencing a COVID-19 infection. Finally, it won’t hurt to take vitamin supplements (read details below).

Using Prescription Drugs

One of the most significant recent changes in the COVID landscape is the wider availability of authorized outpatient treatments. The antiviral drug Paxlovid reduced risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent in a clinical trial, and it is a pill, which makes it relatively easy to take. The drug cannot be taken with many common medications such as statins or blood thinners, however. Monoclonal antibodies also significantly reduce the risk of severe disease, but they require an injection or infusion. And not every patient is eligible to get these treatments. Both have been authorized for people who are at higher risk of severe illness because of age (65 and older) or underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure or lung disease. To date, there is no evidence that these treatments benefit people who are young or otherwise healthy. Either treatment is available by prescription or at Test to Treat sites nationwide for people who are eligible.

To be effective, these medications must be started soon after symptoms begin (within five days and seven days, respectively). “[People who might be eligible] should call their provider right away,” says Raymund Razonable, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic. “These treatments work best when the patients are not feeling so bad.” Side effects of Paxlovid are uncommon but include diarrhea and a metallic taste in the mouth.

Update (June 2022): Paxlovid Doesn’t Work for Healthier Patients, Pfizer Says (Time.com)

Other At-Home Treatments

You can find a listing of doctors who can prescribe necessary home isolation medications on Find a Provider post. 

There are many COVID-19 treatment protocols out there on the internet. We have reviewed many protocols and believe the FLCCC I-MASK+ protocol is the easiest and most effective to follow. 

Always consult your trusted medical professional before you take any medication or supplement. 


McCullough et al. Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, 2020

Long COVID risk less from omicron variant than from delta

The omicron variant is less likely to cause long COVID than the delta variant, new research has found. Analysis by researchers from King's College London of data from the ZOE COVID Symptom study app is published in The Lancet (June 2022). The findings are from the first peer-reviewed study to report on long COVID risk and the omicron variant.

Long COVID is defined by NICE guidelines as producing new or ongoing symptoms four weeks or more after the start of disease. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of concentration and joint pain. The symptoms can adversely affect day-to-day activities, and in some cases can be severely limiting. Researchers found the odds of experiencing long COVID were between 20-50% less during the omicron period versus the delta period, depending on age and time since vaccination.


The UK Office of National Statistics estimated the numbers of people with long COVID actually increased from 1.3 million in January 2022 to 2 million as of May 1, 2022.

Lead author, Dr. Claire Steves from King's College London, said, "The omicron variant appears substantially less likely to cause long COVID than previous variants, but still 1 in 23 people who catch COVID-19 go on to have symptoms for more than four weeks. 

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