What Can I Expect During A COVID-19 Test?
Preparation for COVID-19 Testing
If you think you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms that align with this virus, call a testing center near you. You will be asked to review your symptoms and explain any concerns you may have about who you have been in contact with. This allows the physicians to assess your situation and let you know how to best prepare for your test. Plan to wear a face mask to and from the testing center, and have anyone who accompanies you wear one, too. While hydration is always important for your health, focusing on hydration until you get your results back is advised, as this virus can dehydrate those it infects.
What you can expect
For a COVID-19 diagnostic test, you will be asked to provide a sample of mucus from your nose or throat, or in some cases a sample of your saliva. The sample that is needed for diagnostic testing may be collected at your doctor’s office, a health care facility or a drive-up testing center.
The most common type of test being done to determine if COVID-19 is present is a nasal swab. This is the recommended testing procedure from the CDC, though a throat swab is acceptable if your doctor feels it is better for you. The physician or health care professional conducting your test will insert a thin, flexible stick with cotton at the tip into your nostril or brush the swab along the back of your throat to collect a sample of mucus. For the nasal sample, a swab will be needed in both nostrils to collect an adequate amount of mucus for the test. The swab will be rotated slowly in order to collect the most mucus from your nose.
In addition to the COVID-19 diagnostic test, your doctor may also test for other common respiratory conditions, such as influenza, that have similar symptoms and could explain your illness.
Is the COVID-19 test painful?
Many people are concerned about the nasal swab test for COVID-19 being painful. While it is not a painful test, it may be uncomfortable for patients. The health care work administering your test will insert a special 6-inch cotton swab up both sides of your nose and move it around for about 15 seconds. Once the swab is removed you will not be left with any discomfort.
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