Research shows while fever and cough are the most common symptoms of COVID-19, sore throat or pain when swallowing can also be a sign of the illness.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with many symptoms. In addition to the above, they include runny nose, headache, fatigue, and gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

Although sore throat can be a sign of COVID-19, it is also a symptom of the flu and common cold.

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Yes, but not always. While a sore throat can be a symptom of COVID-19, the illness caused by a SARS-CoV-2 infection, it can also be a symptom of other common respiratory conditions. Additionally, not all people with COVID-19 will have a sore throat.

Research on the prevalence of sore throats in people with COVID-19 reports varying numbers.

A 2020 study found that most COVID-19 cases start with a fever. People typically then develop a cough, sore throat, muscle pain, or headache. Some people also have GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomachache.

One European study of people hospitalized with COVID-19 found that 52.9% of participants experienced a sore throat. This study involved 1,420 people with mild to moderate COVID-19.

People who contract the Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 seem to have particularly high rates of sore throat and runny nose. As of January 2022, scientists are still studying these symptoms, but some early journal articles point to them being present in Omicron cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sore throat is a COVID-19 symptom to watch for.

However, they also explain that cold and flu symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19, so a sore throat does not necessarily indicate that a person has the illness. A person can take a COVID-19 test to determine a diagnosis.

Learn more about the Omicron variant here.

Sore throat due to COVID-19 can vary in severity. It can feel like an irritated throat, often with a prickly or burning sensation.

Some people also experience pain when swallowing.

Dr. Claire Steves, a scientist working on the ZOE COVID Study and clinical senior lecturer at King’s College London, says sore throats are increasingly common among people with the illness.

Pointing out that 75% of new cold-like symptoms are COVID-19, Steves and her team have called for the government in the United Kingdom to add symptoms like sore throat, headache, and runny nose to its list of symptoms as soon as possible.

According to the ZOE study, which includes inputs of symptom data from more than 4 million people globally, a COVID-19 sore throat can feel:

The researchers also say that having a sore throat together with loss of smell is more likely to be COVID-19 than a regular cold with a sore throat.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many people have reported pain and soreness on just one side of the throat.

In some people, a severe case of COVID-19 can cause swollen lymph nodes. These can cause soreness on one or both sides of the throat.

Although a one-sided sore throat can be a sign of COVID-19, it can also be a symptom of:

If a person’s throat pain worsens or they struggle to swallow their saliva, they may want to contact a doctor.

Additionally, if a person thinks their sore throat may indicate COVID-19, they should take a test.

It is possible that sore throat may be a person’s sole COVID-19 symptom, but more research is needed to say this with certainty.

Research indicates that fully vaccinated people usually show less severe symptoms than unvaccinated people. These symptoms may include sore throat, headaches, runny nose, sneezing, and a loss of smell.

This means that people with milder cases of COVID-19 may have a sore throat as one of their only symptoms.

Unlike the earlier virus variants, new research on the Omicron strain shows that people with seemingly mild symptoms like runny nose, headache, sneezing, and sore throat can have COVID-19. This differs from the earlier virus variants, which had more serious symptoms like fever, loss of smell and taste, and muscle pain.

The more researchers learn about COVID-19, the more it becomes apparent that its symptoms change over time.

They also seem to vary with the age of the person, the virus strain they have, and whether or not they have had a COVID-19 vaccination.

The most common symptoms other than a sore throat are:

Because COVID-19 can present in varied ways, it can be tricky to know when to get a test.

The similarity between COVID-19, cold, flu, and allergy symptoms can make it hard to determine what is causing them.

If a sore throat lasts more than a couple of days, an individual may want to get a test for COVID-19. They should also have a test if a sore throat is accompanied by other COVID-19 symptoms.

However, not all people with COVID-19 have symptoms. Many people with asymptomatic COVID test positive for SARS-CoV-2. If a person has been in contact with someone who has the virus, they should get a test.

As of January 2022, the CDC says that if a person tests positive, they should self-isolate at home for 5 days. If their symptoms resolve in those 5 days, they can return to normal activities, but they should wear a mask.

Learn more about how COVID-19 tests work.

A sore throat is a symptom of many common illnesses and conditions, so by itself, it may not indicate COVID-19.

Most health institutions include sore throat in the list of COVID-19 symptoms. However, they recommend checking for other symptoms before getting a test.