As coronavirus testing kits become more available worldwide, confusions have come to light over which COVID-19 test to buy: the antibody diagnostic test or the viral diagnostic test?

A viral diagnostic test can determine if you have an active COVID-19 infection, while an antibody test examines antibodies made by the immune system against the coronavirus infection. If you are sick and want to ensure if you are infected or not, these testing kits can tell if you have it.

For a little help, below are things to keep in mind to decide what type of test you should get and when. Read on!

The Symptoms

Some COVID-19 positive patients show no symptoms of the virus. But when the coronavirus does cause symptoms, general ones include the following:

  • Loss of smell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough
  • Body ache
  • Fever

In some people, the infection causes more serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, severe cough, high fever. These severe symptoms usually indicate pneumonia. Another thing, people with the virus may experience gastrointestinal symptoms (GI), neurological symptoms, or both.

These symptoms might take place with or without respiratory symptoms. An example is the impact of the novel coronavirus on brain function in some people. Neurological symptoms observed in COVID-19 positive patients include:

  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of taste
  • Loss of smell

Some people also experience GI symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain linked with coronavirus. Also, the virus has caused some problems in stool, which demonstrates the significance of regular hand washing and disinfecting.

Viral Diagnostic Test

Those individuals who are exposed to the virus by having close contact with a COVID-19 confirmed case must get tested even if they show no symptoms. Viral diagnostic tests take specimens from your respiratory system through nasal swabs to tell if you have an active infection with coronavirus.

Some viral tests can deliver results in the testing area in almost an hour or two. Meanwhile, other Coronavirus kits for sale online must be transported to a laboratory to examine. This process usually takes at least two days once the lab receives the sample.

How do you know if you need to get a viral diagnostic test? Keep in mind that not all of us must be tested for the virus. If you experience mild symptoms and doctors say you can recover at home without supervision, you don’t need to get a viral test.

Normally, decisions about COVID-19 testing are made by healthcare providers and state departments.

How To Get A Viral Test

Coronavirus testing varies by location. You should contact your healthcare provider if you experience some symptoms of the novel coronavirus and want to get tested. You can also visit your local or state health department’s website to know the latest information on COVID-19 testing.

To know your result, check with your local health department or health care provider. The time it will take for you to get your results relies on the test used. If your test result is positive, know what safety measures to take and isolate yourself.

On the other hand, if you test negative for the virus, perhaps, you were not infected when your specimen was collected. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t get infected. It’s likely that you were early in your novel coronavirus infection when your sample was taken and could test positive for COVID-19 later.

A negative result doesn’t necessarily mean you will not get sick later. It means that you can still spread the virus.

Antibody Test

Antibody tests or serology tests act as a screening for the antibodies in your blood. Antibodies are made when it combats infection like coronavirus. It’s similar to getting a flu shot or vaccine. And this is how your body builds immunity to infection.

Keep in mind that the antibody test is not intended for checking the virus itself. Rather, it investigates whether your immune system has responded to the virus.

How Does It Work?

You will need to give some blood, maybe through a finger prick. Doctors look for two types of antibodies to COVID-19, which are:

  • IgG antibodies, develop later on after you have recovered
  • IgM antibodies, show up early in an infection

Typically, it takes at least four weeks for your body to develop IgM antibodies. However, health care researchers are unsure of how long it will take with COVID-19. More tests and studies are required to find out.

Moreover, it takes about ten days for your body to develop IgG antibodies after the virus’s symptoms start. These antibodies normally stay in your blood after the virus goes away. If you test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, then it means you have had the infection and have immunity to the virus.

On the other hand, if you have a negative test result, it means you have not come in close contact with the infection, or maybe you have not had it long enough to develop antibodies. Also, it is possible not to have antibodies even when you’re exposed to the virus, and it’s called a false negative.

Takeaway

Before you decide to get tested, it’s recommended to consult a doctor first to know if a COVID-19 test is necessary. Essentially, if you’re sick, you should get tested with a viral diagnostic test because it could take weeks for your body to develop antibodies, which antibody tests look for.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "What Type Of COVID-19 Test Should You Get And When," in Medicalopedia, June 18, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8982/what-type-of-covid-19-test-should-you-get-and-when/].