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COVID-19 Testing Basics: What You Should Know

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With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, it's no surprise that many people are struggling with their own fears about exposure and testing. This outbreak has been an unprecedented event. As a result, most people are unsure about whether or not they need to be tested for the virus. Understanding the basics of testing is an important first step. Here's a look at what you need to know about COVID-19 testing.

Why Should You Only Get Tested If You Have To?

The testing supplies and equipment, as well as the infrastructure to process the tests, are all limited in quantities and accessibility. As a result, it's important for medical care providers to moderate who gets tested, putting a priority on those who are at the highest risk. 

After all, if everyone was rushing for testing on a regular basis, the supplies and resources would be depleted quickly and may not be replenished in time to keep up with that demand. Because of this risk, you may find that you have to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for a test.

When Do You Need to Be Tested?

Understanding when a COVID-19 test is necessary can go a long way to calming fears and uncertainty. 

For example, the most common time when a test would be recommended is if you are currently showing active symptoms of the virus. Additionally, if you have been exposed to someone who has been confirmed to have the virus, you should be tested for exposure.

If you have recently been in a high-risk environment where your chances of exposure are significant, if you are a front-line worker, or if you are a vulnerable individual, you should be tested as well. Those who are considered vulnerable include the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems. 

It's important to remember that, even if you aren't showing symptoms, you are recommended to seek testing if you've been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. You can carry and spread the virus even if you are asymptomatic, so don't let symptoms alone be your only deciding factor. Exposure is a serious consideration too.

What Can You Expect from the Test?

The COVID-19 test experience can vary for each person. However, it's important that you understand what to expect from the test if you need to have it.

Depending on the type of test that your doctor decides to conduct, you may have a swab inserted a couple of inches up your nasal cavity to take direct samples from your sinuses. In other cases, a mouth swab may be sufficient for testing.

Talk with your doctor today if you have any questions about COVID-19 testing or your risk of exposure. The more you understand, the easier it is to calm your fears.