It may be intimidating at first when you’re told you need to take a COVID-19 test—you may not know what it looks like, when to test, what the results mean, and so much more.
This article is here to ease your worries and explain everything you need to know to help get you through this troubling time. To ensure you’re prepared whether you need to participate in COVID-19 testing in Sugar Land, Texas, or are performing a self-test at home.
When to Test
The best time to take a COVID-19 test is when you’re actively exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have recently come into contact with someone who has received a positive test result. Vaccination doesn’t prevent you from catching the illness; it’s intended to help your immune system fight it off, so you should get tested even if you have been vaccinated.
The symptoms to watch for include sniffles, a cough or congestion, pain in the chest, and more, and fatigue is another common symptom. It may be difficult to differentiate these symptoms from those of a cold, a different flu virus, or moderate to severe allergies, so pay attention to the persistence and severity of the symptoms.
If they are or become more severe than expected, then it’s time to take a test, and you may want to isolate yourself until you can take one. Which test you will take and what the results mean will vary based on what you have available.
Types of Tests
There are two types of COVID-19 tests: the PCR test and the antigen test. PCR tests, or Polymerase Chain Reaction tests, are the best kind of COVID-19 test to take since they’re very accurate and may be what you think of when you hear the term “COVID-19 test.”
This is when a medical professional takes a sample on a cotton swab, usually from your nose, and sends it to a lab. The lab will then study the provided sample to discover whether or not the person who gave it has COVID-19. The downside of these tests is that it can take up to three days to get your results.
The second type of COVID-19 test is the antigen test. These tend to be less accurate at determining whether you have COVID-19, though positive results are considered to be accurate. Negative results are common, especially if someone proves to be asymptomatic or shows no symptoms.
As a result, you may need to take two or three and receive negative results on all tests to be considered to not have COVID-19, and each test must be taken at least forty-eight hours apart. If you take a test at home, you’ll be taking an antigen test. A benefit of these tests is that while you must wait up to three days for a PCR test result, antigen tests provide an answer in as little as fifteen minutes.
There are a few steps you need to take if you receive a positive COVID-19 test result. The first step is to acquire a few over-the-counter medications to help you manage your symptoms. Once this is done, self-isolate and begin to rest.
Make sure you drink plenty of water and monitor your symptoms. We mentioned chest pain earlier, and if this is persistent or gets worse or you experience trouble breathing, struggle to stay awake or wake up, or any number of potentially dangerous symptoms, contact emergency services as fast as you can.
Once you receive a positive result, you need to self-isolate unless you’re receiving medical attention or you have gone either five or ten full days of isolation and have reduced or a lack of symptoms.
Your reaction to a negative result will depend on where it came from and how you feel. If you have received enough negative antigen test results or a negative PCR test result and have no symptoms, then not much needs to happen.
You may need to wear a mask and retest later if you came into contact with someone who had a positive result though. Should you receive a negative result but still experience symptoms, then you may want to take another test and self-isolate until the new result comes in.
Speak to a doctor if you receive another negative result but the symptoms still persist. You may have allergies or another illness that can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Staying Protected Against COVID-19
While needing to take a COVID-19 test may sound intimidating, there’s nothing to worry about in taking one. Simply take a deep breath, relax, and follow the appropriate steps.
A medical professional may be able to help guide you through what steps to take based on your situation, so consider consulting with one to help ease your mind if necessary.