Omicron Variant Vs. Flu Symptoms: Similarities and Differences

Medically Reviewed on 1/26/2022

11 similarities between Omicron variant and flu symptoms

Omicron vs Flu Symptoms
Here are the similarities and differences of the Omicron COVID-19 variant and flu symptoms.

Common symptoms that the Omicron COVID-19 variant and the flu share include:

  1. Fever or chills
  2. Fatigue
  3. Cough
  4. Sore throat
  5. Runny or stuffy nose
  6. Headache
  7. Generalized weakness
  8. Body ache
  9. Nausea or vomiting
  10. Diarrhea
  11. Shortness of breath

Apart from the above symptoms, five other similarities between Omicron and flu include:

  1. Both affect the respiratory system. Although Omicron has not caused any severe complications, other variants of COVID-19 have resulted in hospitalization. Flu can cause severe complications such as pneumonia.
  2. Omicron and flu spread through droplets or aerosols when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings, or breathes. Omicron or flu infection is possible if a person touches any contaminated surfaces and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth without sanitizing their hands.
  3. Risk factors for both diseases are the same. Certain populations are at the highest risk of acquiring Omicron or influenza virus and include:
    • Older adults
    • People with chronic medical conditions
    • Immunocompromised people or people having suppressed immunity
  4. Protective measures for both diseases are similar and include:
    • Wash hands for 20 seconds every few hours
    • Use a clean towel to dry the hands
    • Avoid touching the face, especially the nose and eyes
    • Sneeze or cough into the upper shirt sleeve
    • Always wear a mask while stepping out, especially during COVID-19 times
    • Use a hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol if hand washing is not feasible
    • A person must avoid going outdoors unless necessary if they are sick with a flu-like illness
    • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces and objects
    • Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated areas
    • Maintain one-meter distance from others
  5. Vaccines are the only cure for these diseases. COVID-19 vaccine has shown some degree of protection against the Omicron variant. Hence, it is important to take the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine, however, does not prevent influenza symptoms, so get regular influenza shots as well.

Differences between Omicron and flu symptoms

Though it is clinically impossible to diagnose between the Omicron variant of COVID-19 or the flu, the symptoms of Omicron appear to be milder.

  • The symptoms of flu are generally severe, especially in the elderly.
  • The fever in Omicron seems to be less common and hovers around 100°F, with a sore throat and generalized body ache as the prominent symptoms.
  • In flu, headache, high fever, and runny nose may be more common.

Apart from symptoms, the management of Omicron and flu symptoms varies.

Management of Omicron virus at the hospital may include:

Antivirals are effective in preventing the severity and complications of flu symptoms, whereas research is underway to understand the efficacy of antivirals in case of Omicron infection.

What is the Omicron COVID-19 variant?

The Omicron variant is the latest mutation in the COVID-19 virus pandemic. It has over 30 more mutants than any other variants and has been known to spread easily.

Other characteristics of the Omicron variant include:

  • Symptoms appear to be less severe than other variants of COVID-19
  • It has faster replication than other variants
  • It has a potential to escape antibody protection after a COVID-19 infection caused by other variants as well as vaccination

Influenza or flu symptoms affect the respiratory system and have many similarities with and differences from the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Medically Reviewed on 1/26/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Similarities and differences between COVID-19 and Influenza.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 (Omicron) Variant — United States, December 1–8, 2021.