Winter was once known as the season of coughs, colds and flus, but now we have to add COVID-19 to that list.

Australia has recorded more than 7.3 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, and health experts expect to see more cases as the temperature drops.

But what should you expect while your immune system fights off the virus? We asked an infectious diseases expert to break it down.

What COVID-19 symptoms should I expect?

Health experts say COVID-19 has similar symptoms to the common cold or flu. 

The Australian government lists the most common symptoms of COVID-19 as:

  • fever
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose or congestion
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath.

But there are some less common COVID-19 symptoms we should be looking out for.

"Some of those symptoms can even include diarrhoea or abdominal pain, for example," says Professor Paul Griffin, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at the University of Queensland.

A vaccine going into a man's arm.
Your symptoms will likely be mild if you're up to date with your COVID vaccinations.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Some of the less common symptoms you could experience include:

  • muscle or joint pain
  • nausea or loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • temporary loss of smell and/or taste.

How bad will my symptoms get?

If you're up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, Professor Griffin says you can expect your symptoms to be less severe than they would have otherwise been. 

"[The symptoms] are typically less both in intensity and duration in those [people] that are vaccinated," he said.

"That doesn't mean that there can't be people who are vaccinated who do get symptoms and even progress to more severe disease, but the rate of that is very significantly reduced by being vaccinated."

How long will my symptoms last?

Professor Griffin says there's no exact timeline for just how long you'll feel under the weather.

"Some people have fairly mild symptoms for a small number of days, and that's not uncommon, particularly in those that are vaccinated, and particularly against Omicron," Professor Griffin says.

"And of course, some people can progress to more severe disease, and some have what we call long COVID, where their symptoms can last months.

"Fortunately, that's not the expectation, it doesn't occur in everybody, but it is something that can happen."

Posted , updated 

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