You’ve heard a lot of news reports talking about coronavirus testing. You may even know someone who got tested or just got their whole family tested. One of the biggest questions on parents’ minds is, “Should my child get tested for COVID-19?” It’s true that the number of childhood coronavirus cases is far fewer than the number of adult cases. While you may want to rush right out and get your child tested, here’s what you should understand about coronavirus testing and what to expect when you come into the office for testing.
The Types of Testing
When it comes to coronavirus testing, there are two main types of tests: a viral PCR test (used if there is an ongoing infection present) or an antibody test (a simple blood test). The viral PCR test is a nasal swab test that collected a sample from inside the nose to determine whether your child is currently infected with COVID-19. While some test results may come back the very same day, you may need to wait a day or two to get your results.
The antibody test is a blood test that will look for antibodies within the blood, which are present in those who have been infected with the virus but are no longer infected. Just like with any infection, our bodies build up antibodies to prevent us from getting infected again and to strengthen our immunity. If there are antibodies present it means your child was infected with COVID-19 and now has the antibodies.
When to Test
Some parents may choose to get their child or teen tested if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include,
- Persistent cough
- Sore throat
- Nausea and abdominal pain
A nasal swab test will be able to detect the virus in children and teens, even if your child is asymptomatic. We recommend a nasal swab test if your child is currently dealing with respiratory symptoms and you are concerned that they may have COVID-19. If you are curious as to whether or not your child has already been exposed (but they aren’t currently experiencing symptoms) then an antibody test will be more appropriate.