How Do You Get Tested and Diagnosed With Covid-19?

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The coronavirus outbreak originated from China in 2019, rocked everyone to their cores. This contagious disease leads to a dramatic loss of lives and presents unprecedented challenges to the livelihoods of everyone around the globe. 

With the virus rapidly spreading and putting more lives in danger, it is important that we take every single measure to limit its spread. The best way to do that is early detection and early diagnosis of the virus.

When To Get Tested For Covid-19?

If you have recently been exposed to a public setting or have been in contact with someone who had the flu, then you should contact your doctor to get advice on being tested for the virus. Some of the most common symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, muscle pain, and loss of taste and smell.

These symptoms can appear in the first two weeks after the initial exposure to the virus. Some people experience no symptoms at all, while others may experience one or two of them. Regardless, the best thing one can do to stop the virus from spreading is self-isolating for fourteen days. 

How to get tested for SARS-CoV-2?

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above and fear that you have been exposed to the virus, then discuss your case with the help professional so they can guide you about the test time process. It would be best if you can communicate with your doctor through the phone to avoid the possibility of spreading the virus.

PCR Testing

Covid-19 testing includes a PCR test, also known as polymerases chain reaction test, which is used to detect acute respiratory syndrome. It is conducted by swabbing your nose or the back of your throat or taking a saliva sample. Then the nucleic acid is extracted from the virus. The extract is then amplified to give the researchers a larger sample of the virus.

The Sars-COV-2 genome has two genes, so if both of those genes are found in the test, it is concluded positively. If only one is found, then the test is inconclusive, and if neither of the genes is found, then the test is negative.

CT Scans

Your doctor can also advise you to get a full-body CT scan to get a clear view of how the Sars-COV-2 has spread and detect its presence. Healthcare providers conduct the scan with high precautions so as to prevent the patient from getting exposed to harmful radiation. 

The test is conducted in an isolation room where both the patients and radiologists have to wear a face mask regardless of the fact that either of the parties is infected or not. Radiologists utilize computers to produce 3D images of the scans that help in seamlessly detecting any virus. 

In a study, it was found that CT scans give accurate results 98% of the time as compared to PCR test, which gives about 71% accuracy. 

Antigen test 

Antigen test is also known as a rapid test because the result of this diagnostic test is quicker than the PCR test. This test is way cheaper and is used to screen a larger number of people at once. 

The antigen test is also conducted by swapping your nose or the back of your throat. With the sample acquired, patients can receive their results in a matter of hours instead of days. The one drawback of this test is that it can miss active infection. So, if you have symptoms of coronavirus but test negative, then your doctor will ask for a molecular test to eliminate a false negative case.

Antibody test 

Antibodies produce protein in our bodies to fight off a virus. An antibody cannot detect an active virus but can tell you that you were infected at some point. 

There are many Covid-19 antibody testing kits that can help you discover whether you are infected or not at your home. Patients have to prick their fingers or arm to draw blood and then use the sample on the testing kit that can show whether the test is positive or negative. However, these kits are not authorized by the FDA.

Antibody test shows accurate results 14 days after you first experienced any symptoms. If you take the test earlier than it will be useless as your immune system has yet to develop those antibodies. This test is also done alongside viral testing for those who come for treatment late in their sickness.

When Should You Seek Medical Care?

Coronavirus signs and symptoms vary from person to person. Some patients experience mild symptoms such as loss of smell, touch, silent hypoxia (breathing normally but having low oxygen reading), while some experience serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, extreme coughing, etc. 

People who suffer from any acute respiratory disease or experience any serious symptoms like rapid heart rate, extreme sweating, or dizziness should know that all of these are warning signs of Sars-COV-2. If you have any of these symptoms, then call your local hospital immediately to get medical attention. 

  • Shortness of breath or trouble in breathing.
  • Muscle pain or tightness in your chest. 
  • Sudden confusion. 
  • Bluish tint to the skin.
  • High fever.
  • Cold hands or feet.
  • A weak pulse.

Old-age people with any of these medical conditions are also at a greater risk of getting infected with Covid-19.

  • Serious heart conditions.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Obesity.
  • Type 2 diabetes

How Much Time Does The Test Results Take?

PCR tests are conducted in large batches, which is why the results take a day or longer. However, these tests are the most accurate if they are not run too early because the viral load may be lesser at that point to be detected. In contrast, antigen or antibody tests have a quicker turnaround time and can give results within hours. 

Conclusion

Covid-19 drastically impacted everyone across the world and continues to do so with its variants. However, adhering to safety precautions and keeping a keen eye on the symptoms of this virus can help us in curbing the spread of this virus. 

If you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus or has been traveling with a large group of people in close confines, then you should self-isolate for 14 days and then get tested to see if you have contracted the virus or not. 

You can go for PCR testing, CT scans, antibody, or antigen tests to detect whether you are infected or not. PCR is the most used diagnostic test. However, CT scans prove to be simpler, quicker, and more accurate than any other test.  

If the results are positive, then you have to self-isolate again for two weeks. After that, you can contact your doctor for further recommendations. Once you are sure you are no longer infected, you should get vaccinated so that you don’t have to quarantine yourself if you have had exposure to the virus. 

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