Testing for Covid-19 is such an important part of our response because it helps people who do have the virus to get treatment when they need it. It means we can isolate them from others to help stop the spread of the virus.
With all the focus on testing, you might have some questions about how it works. Is it uncomfortable?
Speaking on Quora , Kevin Hwang, registered respiratory therapist, based in Silicon Valley says the test is very uncomfortable.
“One of my jobs is a long term care facility for paediatrics and understandably, the state wants us to be tested frequently to hopefully catch asymptomatic spreaders and to catch it early.
“I go to one near where I live where they allow me to do it to myself as they stand right outside of my car and watch me.
“To do it properly, you have to shove it way up there, way past where your finger would stop when you pick your nose. Then when it’s up there, you have to twirl it around so the q-tip can scrape some of the cells off of the outer lining of those membranes.
“This was the moment I realised what it was like for my patients when I have to do a nasotracheal suction.
“After what felt like gouging out the back of my brains, I was tearing up and sneezing like crazy. The area that got swabbed would feel like it’s burning for a few hours afterwards. I imagine if someone else did it, it would be less gentle and be a lot more uncomfortable.
“Anyways I gotta do it every month. Sucks but eh, it’s for the patients’ safety.”
However, an international survey on Accuracy and Discomfort of Different Types of Intranasal Specimen Collection Methods for Molecular Influenza Testing in Emergency Department Patients explains that discomfort varies with swab location, with more discomfort justified by accuracy:
Nasopharyngeal – the long swab reaching the intersection of your nose and throat. The gold standard CDC recommendation. Median discomfort 3 on a 0–5 scale.
Midturbinate – midway up your nose 2–3cm. Detects 90–100 percent of influenza cases caught using nasopharyngeal samples. Median discomfort 1.
Nasal, anterior nares, or nasal vestibule – at the opening. Detects 75–90% of NP confirmed cases. Median discomfort 0.
Self-swabs use a nasal or midturbinate location. Discomfort also varies with individuals from 0 to 5 on a 5 point scale.
Elisabeth McClintock who also tested, shared her testing experience on Quora. She says it was really not terrible.
“I got tested as a precaution before a scheduled doctors appointment. They wanted to make sure I was negative before I went in.
“I did the drive-thru test and it was super easy, just pull up and get tested. The feeling is very similar to a flu test but hurts slightly more. The best way I can describe it is like if you get chlorine up your nose. My nose burned for about 30 minutes afterwards but then I was completely fine.
“it was definitely not as bad as I imagined it. My brain didn’t hurt,” said McClintock.
While coronvirus testing may be uncomfortable, it’s important to call your doctor or contact the helpline if you start to experience symptoms.