The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic still looms large as the omicron variant surges. Amidst a sharp rise in daily cases, thousands of flights got canceled during one of the busiest weekends for travel. On the bright side, the vaccination is highly effective, and is likely to help keep hospitalizations and death tolls to a minimum.
Moreover, COVID-19 testing has come a long way since the pandemic began. We now have the most accurate COVID-19 tests available, allowing us to curb the spread of the virus and save lives to a large extent. With different COVID-19 tests available, there are still many questions and concerns about testing, its accuracy, and its necessity.
To help protect yourself and your loved ones, we will discuss everything you need to know in this regard, including what to do before a COVID-19 test and what not to do before a COVID-19 test, among other things.
Let’s start by discussing what types of COVID-19 tests are available.
Types of COVID-19 Tests
There are two basic types of COVID-19 tests based on their working mechanism – diagnostic tests and antibody tests. The viral or diagnostic test helps detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. On the other hand, the antibody test detects antibodies that your body produces after becoming infected with COVID-19 or after receiving the vaccine.
1. PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Test
PCR is probably the most accurate COVID-19 test available. This molecular test involves taking a swab sample from inside your nose or at the back of your throat and sending it to a lab where the virus’s unique genetic material is used to detect infection.
Results are typically provided within 24 to 48 hrs. This is the Gold Standard test often required for travel, especially international travel.
2. Rapid Test (Antigen Test)
As the name suggests, this test provides rapid results. It’s also a diagnostic test. You can receive this type of test by contacting LX-Medical and having one of our health care practitioners administer the test in the comfort of your home.
How Long Does It Take to Get COVID-19 Test Results?
This test looks for antigens in your system to confirm whether or not you are infected. So, your swab samples do not need to be sent to a lab. You can get the results within 20 minutes. However, this type of test does have some limitations.
Rapid Test: What To Expect
According to the CDC, antigen tests usually have a “moderate to high” sensitivity when administered during peak viral load. However, antigen tests are more likely to produce false negative test results compared to molecular tests.
Although not the most accurate, rapid antigen tests help identify significant numbers of people who have been infected with COVID-19, who can then make the decision to quarantine. That, in turn, helps prevent exposing others to the virus, slowing the spread of the infection.
It’s also worth noting that PCR tests can be false negative sometimes. In other words, it is better to isolate yourself if you come into contact with a COVID-19 positive person or develop symptoms.
3. Antibody Test
This test can detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in your blood. Antibodies are nothing but proteins your immune system produces to fight future viral infections. It’s a natural process that occurs after you have had an infection.
This test won’t tell you if you still have the virus in your system. That’s why healthcare providers never recommend it for a diagnosis. The CDC clearly states that you shouldn’t use antibody tests to determine:
- If you still have an infection.
- If you have immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after getting vaccinated.
- Whether you should get a second dose if you are still partially vaccinated.
If you should get quarantined because you know or suspect you were exposed to COVID-19.
When Should I Get Tested for COVID-19?
“When Should I Get Tested” is probably the most common question people ask. It’s also one of the most debated topics in the scientific community. How you should approach COVID-19 testing depends on your circumstances and symptoms.
That said, you can get an antigen test (rapid test) or at-home test (PCR) anytime you want. An at-home COVID-19 test in Minneapolis is a convenient and easy way to determine whether or not you are not infected with COVID-19.
You can receive a COVID-19 test regardless of whether or not you have (or suspect symptoms). Both partially and fully vaccinated people can also take this test because breakthrough infections may still occur.
Here are some tips for COVID-19 testing at home:
- Consider getting a COVID-19 test before going to public events or meeting people who aren’t in your regular social circle.
- If the antigen test comes back positive, isolate yourself immediately for at least ten days. Also, be sure to wear a mask and avoid gatherings or parties, especially indoors.
- If the antigen test comes back negative, it still doesn’t rule out the possibility of an infection. Take the test within a few days to be sure.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, your healthcare provider may recommend that you receive a PCR test:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches.
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting.
Not everyone with COVID-19 will develop symptoms. Also, infected people may not show all of the above symptoms. If you suspect you were exposed to COVID-19 or feel unwell, check with your healthcare provider and get a test immediately, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Do’s and Don’ts Before a COVID-19 Test
With the omicron variant spreading rapidly, COVID-19 testing is steadily increasing across the US. If you are also getting tested, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind.
What Not To Do Before COVID-19 Test
There are a few things you should avoid doing before your COVID-19 test. Although simple, following these guidelines can increase the accuracy of your test, keep you and your loved ones safe, and help you plan the next course of action.
Here’s what not to do before the PCR test:
- Don’t drink, smoke, or eat half an hour before your test.
- Don’t spit, cough, or sniff during saliva collection.
- Don’t go out or go to parties and gatherings until your test results are back.
- Don’t be afraid of taking the test or stressed about your health.
- Don’t touch your eyes, mouth, and nose.
What To Do Before a COVID-19 Test
There are a few steps you should take before your test. These steps will help you monitor your symptoms and get medical attention quickly should you need it. Here’s what to do before a PCR test:
- Monitor your symptoms (if you have any), like checking your temperature and oxygen levels.
- Make sure to call your healthcare provider before the COVID test and keep them in the loop.
- Manage your stress levels, sleep, and overall health.
- Eat healthy and nutritious food to help boost your immunity.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Stay home and away from others.
- Start making plans to quarantine yourself for ten days should the test results be positive.
- Make sure to drink water before your appointment to stay hydrated. You can drink water until ten minutes before the sample collection.
Do’s and Don’ts After the COVID-19 Test
If your test results come back positive, make sure to:
- Self-quarantine for ten days, especially if you have not been vaccinated or only partially vaccinated.
- Take your self-quarantine seriously. Avoid contact with your family members or roommates.
- You may not have to stay home if you are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated. But make sure to check with local healthcare authorities first.
- Tell people you came in contact with about your test results. Doing so can help persuade them to get tested and follow recommended care if required.
- Stay positive. Stay in touch with your family, friends, and healthcare provider through video calling.
- Don’t eat junk food, drink or overexert yourself. Let your body heal itself before going back to your routine.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. The new omicron variant is spreading rapidly, resulting in a steady increase in positive cases across the globe. To protect yourself and your loved ones, you should consider getting a COVID-19 test if you feel sick or want to travel. Hopefully, this post will help you understand how these tests work, when to get tested, and what precautions you should take.
LX medical provides in-home healthcare services in Minneapolis, including at-home COVID-19 tests. To book your at-home COVID test appointment, call 651-565-9633 or fill out our online contact form today.