Years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many people still feel unsure about the facts. Recommendations change on a regular basis, rumors are constantly flying around, and fear can take charge of decision-making. Amongst all of the uncertainty, however, there are things that we know for sure. Keep reading to learn the firm answers to commonly asked questions about COVID testing.
What Are the Types of Tests?
When it comes to COVID-19 testing, there are two types of tests that you can take — antibody tests and diagnostic tests. It’s important to know what characterizes the two prior to scheduling your next test.
Antibody tests search for antibodies within your immune system that are created as a product of SARS-CoV-2. This virus is the source of COVID-19. Your body develops antibodies to fight off infections such as COVID and can take multiple days, or even weeks, to grow. Once they are in your body, they can remain there for a few weeks, or longer, once you have recovered. Antibody test samples are generally comprised of blood either taken from a finger stick or drawn by a medical professional. These types of tests are not to be used for diagnosing an operative COVID infection.
Diagnostic tests, on the other hand, are to be used for diagnosing active infections. These tests can inform you of your current infection status, giving you the opportunity to quarantine yourself for a time. You may hear diagnostic tests being referred to as molecular and antigen tests. The samples for these tests are usually taken from your nose or throat with a swab. Alternatively, you may spit into a tube to get your diagnostic test results.
What Samples Will Be Taken?
As previously discussed, the varying test types require different sample types. Some people are scared going into the COVID testing room, as they are worried about any pain associated with the swabs taken. Rest assured, medical professionals and those administering tests are qualified and practiced — they only do what’s necessary and they are careful throughout the sample-taking process. Let’s get into some of the different sample types and where they are taken from.
There are three types of samples taken from inside the nose: anterior nares, mid-turbinate, and nasopharyngeal. Anterior nares are taken from just within the bounds of your nostrils. These samples are minimally invasive. Mid-turbinate samples are taken from farther than your nostrils but not quite to your throat. Nasopharyngeal samples are the most invasive of the nose samples, going to the back of the throat.
Oropharyngeal tests are taken from your throat. Whoever is taking the sample, whether it be an urgent care worker or yourself, will swab near your tonsils. Both throat samples and nose samples are taken with a swab, which is essentially a longer and smaller Q-tip.
Saliva samples do not require the use of a swab but are obtained by spitting into a tube. Blood samples, as previously mentioned, are taken for antibody tests and are collected either at your primary care doctor’s office, an urgent care center, or some other type of medical clinic. Otherwise, they are collected with a finger stick.
When Should You Be Tested?
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, there are more than 7,300 urgent care centers in the U.S. Plenty of these urgent care centers are now offering COVID testing, but how do you know when you should visit one? Here are some instances when you should make the trip.
- If you notice that you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19
- If you’ve had known exposure to someone with COVID-19 within a 6-foot distance for at least 15 minutes
- You have been to a large gathering, surrounded by an abundance of people, and could not/did not socially distance
- Your place of employment, school, or community is requesting that you get tested
- You have traveled recently and could not properly socially distance
Once you have been tested, do your best to isolate yourself until your results are in. After that, adhere to the advice of medical professionals. If you’re on the lookout for local COVID testing or have further questions about the process, be sure to reach out to Care Station Medical Group.