There are several ways to test yourself for coronavirus. You can use a self-test that’s purchased from a retailer or doctor’s office, or you can buy a free test online. These tests can give you results within minutes, so they’re convenient to use. You should always follow the instructions and manufacturer’s guidelines for using a home self-test.
A Positive Test Means You Have COVID-19
Most people who have a coronavirus infection will have symptoms, including cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and muscle aches. Symptoms may last for up to five days. Sometimes they can last longer and cause long-term problems called “post-COVID conditions.”
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should continue following CDC guidelines to protect yourself from the disease. This includes avoiding crowds, staying indoors, wearing masks, and washing your hands frequently.
You should also tell your health care provider if you have COVID-19 and follow their advice. You may need antibiotics or other treatment.
How to Get a Home Test
You can purchase a COVID-19 test from most pharmacies and retail stores, as well as online. These tests can be expensive, but many private health insurance plans cover them.
Some COVID-19 tests are very sensitive, so you might get a positive result even though you don’t have the virus. These tests have a higher risk of giving false positive results, so you should follow the test’s instructions carefully and get medical help immediately if you have any symptoms.
Other tests can detect the presence of small amounts of the virus, but they’re less sensitive and may not be accurate. These tests may also give a negative result if you take them too early in your illness.
Molecular and Antigen Tests
Some coronavirus tests are molecular, which detect the virus’ genetic material (DNA). These types of tests have a higher chance of providing accurate results than other kinds of self-tests.
They also have a faster turnaround time than other tests, so you can get results in minutes instead of hours. Some of these tests will require a swab or sample of saliva. Others will take a urine sample.
If you want to learn more about these tests, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 page.
You can also get a free test from your local health department or a community testing site. These are often available for people with low incomes, or those who have limited access to healthcare.
Another option is a rapid antigen test, which provides results in about 20 minutes. You will need to provide a nasal or saliva sample from your mouth or nose, and it’s important to use the right type of kit for the test you choose.
These tests are often used to assess whether someone has a weakened immune system, such as those who have had organ transplants or live in a high-risk group, like older adults or people with chronic diseases. They may also be used for people who can’t get vaccinated, including children.