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'Should I Get Tested for COVID-19 if I Have a Sore Throat or Runny Nose?'

man sore throat
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNSeptember 25, 2020

If you start feeling sick -- let’s say with a sore throat or runny nose -- should you get tested for COVID-19? I mean, lots of things can cause your nose to run (hello, fall allergy season!), so does it make sense to put COVID at the top of your list?

Honestly, it depends.

If you have a history of seasonal allergies, for example, and you develop the usual fall runny nose, then it may not make sense to get a COVID-19 test if that’s your only symptom.

But if your illness comes out of nowhere -- especially if it gets worse and begins to include other symptoms on the CDC’s coronavirus symptoms list -- then you definitely should consider a COVID-19 test. Getting tested helps you avoid spreading the virus to other household members or the general public, some of whom could wind up hospitalized if they come down with COVID-19.

That said, you also should call your doctor’s office to discuss your symptoms and get advice on whether to get tested for COVID-19. Your doctor always is the best source of guidance because they know your personal medical history.

If testing is free and widely available in your area, then you can consider getting a coronavirus test any time you come down with symptoms on the CDC list. If you’re in an area where testing remains restricted, then rely on your doctor’s guidance.

By the way, whenever you think you might have COVID-19, you should act as if you really do have the virus: Self-isolate in your bedroom (if you live with others), disinfect any household surfaces you touch, and avoid going out in public. If you must go out for medical testing or treatment, wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others to avoid possibly spreading the virus.

And if your COVID-19 test comes back negative, yippee! It’s probably just a cold or allergies, and you can go on about your normal business.



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