When Is a COVID Test Appropriate?

Oct 02, 2023
When Is a COVID Test Appropriate?
COVID-19 took the world by storm in 2020, and it's still lingering. The symptoms can be vague, so how do you know when to get a COVID test? Take a moment to discover the signs that warrant a COVID-19 diagnosis through testing.

Before 2020, the flu was the worst virus to hit us yearly. Many people get flu vaccines to fight the virus and protect their immune systems.

However, 2020 brought a new opponent — COVID-19. Some people developed symptoms similar to the flu. In contrast, others fell extremely ill and had to go to the hospital for life-saving treatment.

With so many variables still out there, knowing if you have COVID-19 is crucial, especially if you’re dealing with chronic medical conditions.

The team at Prudent Medical Providers offers quick and easy COVID testing for anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

Our three board-certified nurse practitioners evaluate your symptoms to determine if we should do a COVID test.

Types of COVID tests

When COVID-19 emerged, finding an accurate test wasn't easy, but seemingly every scientist in the country was trying. Over three years later, the technology has come a long way and led to several practical COVID tests.

There are two main types of COVID tests, which evaluate samples from a person's nose or mouth to determine if they have a current SARS-CoV-2 infection. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that leads to COVID-19 symptoms.

The first type of test is the gold standard, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which takes about three days to develop at a lab.

PCR tests use nucleic acid amplification to determine if someone has active COVID-19. It's more accurate than the following type of test, which is an antigen test.

Antigen tests are fast and reliable, producing results in less than 30 minutes. However, they're much less likely to detect SARS-CoV-2 in individuals who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms.

The FDA recommends repeat antigen tests 48 hours apart to ensure accurate results for those with or without symptoms.

What symptoms warrant testing?

Initially, anyone with cold symptoms was tested for COVID-19 because we didn't know much about the virus. However, we know more now than ever, meaning we can narrow down who requires testing versus who can wait.

If you begin exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, getting tested is always a good idea. Some of the symptoms that warrant a COVID test include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Headache

These symptoms can be due to COVID-19, but we can't know without a test. Although the above symptoms are also signs of the common cold or the flu, the only way to be sure is through PCR testing.

Who else needs a COVID test?

People who exhibit symptoms aren't the only ones we should test. You should test if you're exposed to someone who currently has COVID-19 or likely has the virus.

You must wait five days after the most recent exposure to test for COVID-19. Testing too early could result in a false negative result. You can test at home with antigen tests or come in for a more accurate PCR test.

If, at any point during the five-day wait period, you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, call us immediately for a COVID test. The sooner you find out you have COVID-19, the sooner you can take precautions to protect others against the virus.

If you're ill and are wondering about a COVID test, don't hesitate to call Prudent Medical Providers today at one of our offices in Tacoma or Federal Way, Washington. You can also request a telehealth appointment on the website.