COVID-19 Testing in Cullman, AL
There are several things to consider when making a decision about COVID-19 testing.
A COVID-19 test can detect either SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, or antibodies that your body makes after getting COVID-19 or after getting vaccinated. These tests have been developed and refined since the onset of the pandemic.
Researchers, scientists, and healthcare workers are all working together to get reliable measures for you. If you develop symptoms or get sick, knowing if you have COVID-19 is vital to slowing the spread of the disease. COVID-19 testing is available at Good Hope Medical.
Different Types of COVID Tests
The first type of test is called a viral test because it looks for viral infection. These viral tests for SARS-CoV-2 tell you if you have an infection at the time of the test. Antigen or Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) are viral tests. This is the type of test most common to determine if you have COVID-19.
If you are looking to get a viral test, you may consider two subgroups:
- nasal swab or saliva
- results in 1-3 days
- no follow-up test required
- more accurate results
- common example: PCR test
- nasal swab
- results in 15-30 minutes
- follow-up test may be required
- common example: Antigen test
The other type of test is commonly called an antibody or serology test. It tests for antibodies that may tell you if you have had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Your body creates antibodies after getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 or after getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
The CDC states that the antibody tests should not be used to determine if you have COVID-19. Antibody tests can vary in reliability and some may be used for public health and clinical purposes.
Additionally from the CDC: “Antibody testing is not currently recommended to assess for immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following COVID-19 vaccination, to assess the need for vaccination in an unvaccinated person, or to determine the need to quarantine after a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.”
What is the difference between a PCR test and a Rapid Antigen test?
PCR means polymerase chain reaction. The PCR test has been the standard test for diagnosing COVID-19 since authorized for use in February 2020. It’s accurate and reliable. It tests genetic material from a specific organism.
Self-tests are rapid tests that can be taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. Antigen tests detects bits of proteins on the surface of the virus called antigens and are most reliable when symptoms first start.
To learn more about tests and samples, please visit the FDA’s Testing Basics.
Does a COVID-19 test tell me if I have a specific variant?
COVID-19 tests are designed and authorized to check broadly for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and not for specific variants.
There are no authorized COVID-19 tests that specifically report omicron, delta, or other variants.
Who needs a COVID-19 test?
You may be curious if you have COVID-19. You may have symptoms and wonder if you have the virus or another illness. You employer or healthcare provider may recommend testing for COVID-19 if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Other Reasons for a COVID-19 test may include:
- After known or expected exposure to someone with COVID-19
- For screening purposes (school, work, gatherings, etc.)
- Before travel
- Upon request of a healthcare provider
The test is simple and is usually completed in a couple of minutes with minimal discomfort.
How Can I Find a Test?
If you think you have COVID-19 and need a test, contact your health care provider or local health department immediately.
You can also find a community testing site in your state, or buy an FDA-authorized at-home test.
Interpreting Test Results
Viral Test Results
After you complete a COVID-19 test to see if you have the virus, you may get either a positive result or negative.
- Likely you have an infection with SARS-CoV-2
- It’s common to have a mild illness and most can recover safely at home
- Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse
- Likely you don’t have an infection with SARS-CoV-2
- A chance you may still have COVID-19 but not detected by the test if you have had COVID-19 for more than a week or if you have recently became infected but you don’t have symptoms yet
Antibody Test Results
The viral test is to see if you have COVID-19. If you took an antibody test to see if you have antibodies against, COVID-19, a positive result means you likely do have antibodies and a negative result means you likely do not have antibodies. However, if you need more information interpreting your COVID-19 antibody test, please visit the CDC guidelines as there are other indications.
Here For You
There are many willing to help you understand COVID-19 and the results of your test. Ask your healthcare provider for more information or reach you if you think you may have COVID-19.
Getting tested is a routine part of navigating COVID-19 for yourself and those around you.