The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has significantly increased surges around the United States. Tests are becoming more popular at home, so patients receive an immediate result and can then quarantine if positive.
When should you consider taking an at-home COVID-19 test? It's best when you start feeling symptoms. If you have been vaccinated, symptoms are generally milder, resembling a mild cold, but you are still contagious to others. Even if you have been fully vaccinated, you can still be susceptible to catching the virus.
This article will address whether home COVID-tests are accurate and when you should visit a provider for a diagnosis.
At-home COVID testing kits are rapid antigen tests. They can be purchased at most pharmacies or ordered online.
They are most accurate if you follow directions exactly as stated for the at-home test. They are most accurate in patients with high amounts of virus particles and contagions.
Understand, rapid COVID testing with a negative result may not mean that you don’t have the virus. Tests can result in false negatives, especially if the patient does not follow the directions.
If you have been around someone who has tested positive, it may mean you haven't met the threshold of virus particles that would result in a positive rapid test. In this case, you may need PCR testing from a lab to confirm if you are negative for the virus.
Many patients have had a negative test result from at-home kits, but with a PCR test, they are positive.
That said, if you test positive using an at-home kit, you can usually assume you have the virus. If you want further confirmation, you can consider a rapid COVID test or PCR test from an urgent care center.
PCR tests are much more sensitive to virus particles. They can confirm a positive at-home test or correctly diagnose a negative result. PCR tests are also beneficial because they can usually detect the virus sooner than at-home or rapid COVID tests.
PCR tests may not be necessary if you tested positive using an at-home test or a rapid test, but some employers may require it before you can return to work. The demand for PCR testing continues to grow, especially since the new Omicron variant has begun to spread rapidly.
An antigen test for covid can detect the presence of antibodies for COVID. These antibodies are the body's natural way to fight the virus.
Antibodies can take time before they develop and stay in the body for several weeks after a patient has been exposed. Because antigens can remain in the body for many weeks after a patient recovers, they are not used to diagnose an active infection.
At-home tests are convenient but can be expensive. It is useful if you are having symptoms of the virus.
Generally, if you have symptoms and a positive at-home test, you can assume you have COVID-19. Additional antigen tests for COVID are usually not necessary.
If you have symptoms and the test is negative, you might need a more sensitive PCR test. You can also retake the at-home test the next day as the virus particles may increase and change the result.
Whether you test positive or negative, it is essential to quarantine per the CDC recommendations if you have symptoms. If you cannot obtain a PCR test to confirm that you have COVID-19, then it is advised to quarantine for ten days.
If you have been around someone who tests positive for COVID-19, you may consider taking an at-home test because you may test positive without showing signs or symptoms.
At-home tests can also be helpful before you travel, are around a large group of people, or if going to areas with risk of high exposure, such as malls or the airport.
Remember, a negative result does not mean you don’t have the virus. Stay home if exposed and consider taking another test the day after your negative result.
Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches offers both rapid COVID testing and PCR testing to confirm a positive diagnosis of COVID. Whether you have had a negative at-home test or a positive test, we can confirm the results so you can start taking proper precautions.
We have several convenient locations to serve our patients for COVID-19 testing in Palm Beach:
We also offer convenient telemedicine urgent care so you can stay home to reduce the risk of COVID exposure. Walk-in service is also available for those who need care.
Contact us for all your urgent care needs. We look forward to serving you in the future.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.
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