Corona self-test: These 7 errors cause an incorrect result

Corona rapid tests for at home, also known as self-tests, usually work when the viral load is high. According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, around 80 percent of the tests approved in Germany detect a corona infection – provided they are used correctly and carried out consistently. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly and to implement them conscientiously. These 7 errors in the Corona self-test can lead to incorrect results!

1. Wrong temperature when storing and testing

Like  medicines  and other medical products, corona self-tests should be stored neither too cold nor too warm. However, the room temperature is not only relevant when storing the quick tests, the ambient temperature should also be at least 15 degrees and a maximum of 25 to 30 degrees during the actual testing. Strong temperature fluctuations during storage can also have a negative impact on the reliability of the self-tests.

2. The timing of the quick test

Self-tests can be carried out at any time of the day, but are particularly recommended in the morning, when the viral load is highest.

Incidentally, the time at which the reading is taken is also crucial: Pay close attention to the instructions on the packaging. If a second line forms well after the specified period has expired, this usually does not indicate a positive test result.

3. Impurities falsify the test result

If samples are taken from the mouth, you should not eat or drink for at least 30 minutes before the test. Initial studies show that drinks, medicines or food can falsify the test result. For example,  soft drinks could  lead to incorrect results in studies, but  coffee , carbonated drinks or fruit juices can also falsify the result. In addition,  brushing your teeth  or smoking before the test is not recommended. Chewing gum is also   taboo at least half an hour before the self-test.

No nasal spray should be used before swabs are taken from the nasal area. Most manufacturers also advise against blowing your nose before using the self-tests, while others recommend it to remove particles such as dust and pollen from the nose. It is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

When performing the self-test, also make sure your hands and surface are clean and do not touch the front part of the test stick with your fingers to avoid contamination.

4. Taking the swab in the wrong place

For tests specifically designed for the nose or throat, swabs should only be taken from the specified region. This can reduce false results.

5. Testing too timid: The sample is not taken correctly

Many people do not insert the swab deep enough or into both nostrils. Anyone who finds it difficult should ask relatives or roommates to carry out the test. For a correct nasal swab, you should not insert the swab vertically (towards the forehead) into the nose, but as flat and horizontally as possible towards the throat. Move along the mucous membrane with circular movements.

Things to keep in mind when taking a nasal swab:

  • The swab must absorb sufficient nasal secretion, i.e. as much as possible.
  • The sample must therefore be collected in both nostrils.
  • As a rule, you should avoid blowing your nose directly before the test in order to have enough nasal secretion, but coarse particles such as pollen can falsify the result.

If too little secretion reaches the swab, only a faint line appears at the control mark (“C”). Also, be sure to keep to the number of drops specified by the manufacturer.

Errors can occur not only with nasal swabs, but also with the saliva test some aspects should be considered:

  • Sufficient  saliva  ensures accurate results.
  • The saliva should be as liquid as possible. Bubbles should be allowed to subside in the test liquid before it is used.

6. Ignore the result

Nobody wants a positive result. But: Even a slight shadow of the second test strip can indicate an infection. If you ignore the result, you harm yourself and others. If there are clear positive results or only the slightest appearance of a second line, a PCR test should be performed.

By the way, the C doesn’t stand for  Corona , it means “Control”. The test is only positive if a second strip appears.

7. Irregular testing

A self-test a week is not enough to protect yourself and those around you from infection. Since the viral load can increase rapidly, especially in the case of the omicron variant, irregular self-tests are not sufficient.

Testing should be carried out daily, especially if you have symptoms of a cold or after contact with infected people. The offer of free citizen tests and, if necessary, PCR tests should also be used.

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