Omicron symptoms: Is that runny nose COVID-19 or a common cold?

With students returning to the classroom and the number of COVID-19 cases soaring, many parents are certain to face a dilemma. Should your child stay home because of a runny nose?

Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth said it has seen the number of pediatric COVID-19 cases skyrocket over the past week with about 31% of all tests or 600 per day coming back positive.

That’s the highest it’s been since the pandemic began, higher than even the surge caused by the delta variant this past September.

RELATED: Omicron variant surge to peak in late January in North Texas, UT Southwestern says

Doctors attribute it to the omicron variant being much more transmissible than other variants. And even though the omicron variant is the dominant variant in North Texas right now, the delta variant is still circulating. 


So, what should you do when your child comes home from school with symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose or a cough? How can you tell the difference between COVID-19, a common cold and the flu?

According to Cook Children’s, the most common symptoms of the omicron variant seem to be a sore throat, cough, congestion, runny nose and fatigue.

Meanwhile, the most common symptoms of the delta variant have been a cough, fever, headache and sometimes the loss of smell or taste.

Since these variants share so many similar symptoms to the common cold and the flu, the hospital said it can be nearly impossible to distinguish between them without a test.

RELATED: Dallas ISD extends mask mandate, Lancaster ISD students to learn remotely due to omicron variant

"At this point, it’s probably best to assume you are positive until you are proven otherwise," said Marc Mazade, M.D., director of Infection Control at Cook Children’s. "If family members are having symptoms, they should get tested as soon as possible, which may take longer than usual."

The hospital encourages parents to err on the side of caution and keep their children home when they feel sick, even if it’s just a runny nose.


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