When Should You Get Tested For Covid?

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COVID 19 tests are once again attracting attention as the country faces a surge in coronavirus cases. With cases increasing exponentially in all corners of the United States, not only are more people being screened, but more people are trying out covid testing or asking whether they can get tested due to potential exposure.

Effective testing is critical in slowing the virus’s spread by identifying those infected and allowing treatment or isolation. Testing is also essential to understand how the virus spreads and how widespread it is in a certain population.

However, much as it was at the onset of the pandemic, testing efforts have been plagued by a lack of testing materials. It has caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide recommendations to local and state health departments regarding individuals who should be tested for coronavirus.

Who Should Get Tested For Covid?

  • People who have COVID 19 symptoms (we will discuss the symptoms shortly).
  • A person who has had direct contact with someone with COVID-19 (within 6 feet of an affected person for a total of 15 minutes or more during 24 hours).
  • People who have engaged in situations that place them at a higher risk for COVID-19 because they were unable to physically separate themselves when required, such as traveling, large social or mass gatherings, or being in crowded enclosed spaces.
  • People who have been requested or referred by their healthcare provider, state, tribal, local, or territorial health department to undergo testing.

You do not have to get tested if

  • You have been fully vaccinated and have no COVID 19 signs even after being exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
  • You have been positive for COVID-19 in the last three months and recovered. You do not need to be tested for Covid again if you do not experience any symptoms.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

Some individuals with the coronavirus show no symptoms. When the infection does cause symptoms, the most common are fever, muscle aches, dry cough, nausea, chills, headache, sore throat, lack of appetite, and loss of smell. COVID-19 induces more extreme symptoms in some patients, such as high fever, severe cough, and shortness of breath, which also means pneumonia.

COVID-19 patients may also have neurological symptoms, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, or both. These may occur in the presence or absence of respiratory symptoms.

Other symptoms associated with COVID-19 include weakness, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, stroke, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain or discomfort.

When Do Doctors Recommend Getting Tested  For COVID-19?

According to public health officials and infectious disease doctors, if you feel you have a reason to get tested, you should get rapid testing.

However, doctors recommend Covid testing

  • When a person shows symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or has been in notable contact with a case as directed by public health authorities.
  • If you recently came into contact with someone who is showing virus symptoms but hasn’t been tested yet.

It is not advised to repeat testing to determine if the individual has been “cured” of the virus after infection as it’s not reliable. A Person’s test result could be positive on a PCR test even after he or she is no longer contagious. However, there is no reason not to do it for antibody testing, but just know that the results may not be 100% accurate.

How To Get Tested For COVID 19? 

For the most up-to-date local details on Coronavirus testing, contact your healthcare provider or go to the website of your national, tribal, local, or territorial health department. The type of viral COVID-19 tests available may vary by location.

If you have COVID 19 symptoms and cannot get checked by a healthcare provider or public health representative, you and your healthcare provider may want to try an at-home collection kit or an at-home Covid test.

What Kind Of Test Is Used To Diagnose A COVID-19 Infection?

There are two measures that will decide whether you have COVID-19:

  • RT-PCR (the Gold Standard): This is the most reliable measure, but it can take 24-72 hours or even longer to get results because samples must be tested in a properly equipped laboratory.
  • Antigen tests: These tests are quicker, with results available in 30 minutes, but they are less reliable than the RT-PCR test. This means that the test does not diagnose all viruses, and certain people infected with the COVID 19 virus may receive a negative result (called a false-negative test). Similarly, a person infected with a virus other than COVID-19, such as the virus that causes the common cold, can test positive for COVID-19 (called a false-positive test).

What To Do After A Test?

You can contact the entity who performed your test, such as your healthcare provider or the health department, to obtain your test results. The length of time it takes to get your test results are determined by the test used.

Follow the instructions below if you used an at-home test.

If you test positive for COVID-19, know what precautions to take if you get ill.

  • Most patients with moderate COVID 19 infection are likely to recover at home without medical treatment. If your conditions worsen or you have concerns about your health, contact your healthcare provider.

If you test negative for COVID-19, you were most likely not infected at the time your sample was taken. This isn’t to say you won’t get sick:

  • A negative test result simply indicates that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing or that your sample was taken too early in the Covid 19 infection.
  • After the test, you may be exposed to COVID-19, become sick, and spread the virus to others.
  • If you experience symptoms later, you can need further tests to decide if you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Bottom Line:

If you believe you have a reason to get tested for COVID-19 or are concerned you might be infected, there is no reason not to get tested. If you do test positive, the Center for Covid Control recommends self isolation in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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