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The proper way to use at-home coronavirus test kits

Many are turning to these kits but aren't using them properly which could have inaccurate results.

SAN ANTONIO — With omicron spreading so rapidly people are looking anywhere and everywhere for tests, whether those be in person or at home. 

These tests are not easy to find, in person or online. If you do get one you need to make sure you use it properly. 

"Those tests have been developed using the directions that are in the package. So, you know, so unless you follow those directions, you can get a false result," said Dr. Jan Patterson, an Infectious Disease Specialist at UT Health SA, who also sees patients within the University Health System. 

The CDC says anyone exposed to someone with COVID should test no sooner than five days after their exposure, or as soon as symptoms occur. So if you find out on Tuesday that you were exposed on Sunday, without symptoms, you count five days from the day of exposure, or Sunday, which would be that Friday to take your test. 

"If you test too early, if you test like, say, the day after you're exposed or two days after you're exposed, you can you really get a false negative because you still could come down with disease between three to five days," Dr. Patterson added.  

The CDC says you can use self-tests, with or without symptoms, vaccinated or not, follow all of the manufacturer's instructions for performing the test. Also, a positive test means you are very likely to have an infection and should isolate for 5 days. And a negative self-test result means the test did not detect the virus, but it does not rule out infection. 

"If you are having symptoms and you test negative with a home test, it doesn't 100 percent mean that you're negative. So certainly, if you are feeling sick with those symptoms, it's a good idea to go ahead and get a molecular test," Dr. Patterson said.

Keep in mind many COVID test-at-home kits are not covered by insurance. So make sure to talk to your insurance carrier before you buy it to make sure you know how much money you'll need pay out of pocket. 

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