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This Month In Health
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Health and Fitness News

Are You COVID Positive?

What you should know about the COVID-19 test.

So you’ve got a fever and a cough. Now what? It’s important for you to find out if you could have COVID-19 so you can take the proper precautions to avoid spreading the virus. You may have heard the test is painful or uncomfortable but is over quickly. Or you may have heard it’s painless.

Some people have to wait in long lines sitting in their car, others have to be referred from a physician, and others have to make an appointment but are seen quickly. Some get results in less than an hour, others have to wait up to a week or more. Frustrating as it is to juggle all this conflicting information, it’s all correct. Based on where you live, what’s available in your community, or the severity of your symptoms, your testing experience will vary.

That’s because there are different types of tests available at different locations. Where should you go and what type of test can you expect? Keep reading to find out.

Two Types of Tests

Wondering about the two types of tests? There’s a viral diagnostic test and an antibody test (serology test). The viral test is what you need if you are currently sick. It’s what’s used to diagnose COVID-19, and that’s what this article is about.

An antibody test is what you should get if you want to find out if you had a past infection. Maybe you had mild symptoms or were exposed and wonder if you could have had the virus and didn’t know it. It can take one to three weeks after a viral infection for your immune system to produce antibodies as a sign your body fought off the infection. The antibody test reveals if you have these specific antibodies or not, showing whether or not you battled COVID already.

Where to Get Tested

Each state has its own regulations about COVID-19 testing. To find out when and where to get tested, it’s best to look online at your state or local health department’s website for testing information. Don’t just show up at your healthcare provider and expect to get tested. Call your doctor first for their instructions on testing. Otherwise, you may get sent home and asked to schedule a test on another day.

Types of Diagnostic Tests

When you get a diagnostic test to determine whether or not you have COVID-19, you will either get a molecular test or an antigen test. The molecular test looks for the virus’s genetic material. Types of molecular tests include NAAT, the LAMP test, or the RT-PCR test. Most molecular tests are done via a nasal or throat swab. A few are done via saliva. Tests take anywhere from one to ten days to receive results back from the lab.

An antigen test detects proteins found on the surface of the virus. It’s also known as the rapid diagnostic test, though some molecular tests are rapid as well. You can get results with this test on the same day, often within a few minutes. Antigen tests are performed with a nasal or throat swab.

Can Results Be Trusted?

Maybe you had a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, but tested negative for COVID-19. Can you trust the results? Yes, but not completely. After all, no test is always 100-percent accurate. That said, molecular test results are considered highly accurate and don’t require repeat tests for confirmation. And a positive antigen test is considered accurate, though a negative result may be a false negative and need to be confirmed through a molecular test if you continue exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms.

Inaccurate test results may be due to a handful of reasons. The swab may not have collected the virus in your throat or nose. The test may have been performed early enough in your infection. The swab may have been exposed to high or low temperatures before being tested. The test sample may have been contaminated by the virus. Or the testing chemicals may have malfunctioned.

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