Not All COVID Testing Is Kid-Friendly

As COVID-19 cases increase and schools start to reopen, children are going to have more and more coronavirus scares. That means they’re going to need to get tested more often. And with how invasive testing is, your kid is sure to put up a fight — or shed some tears. Most COVID-19 tests are done with nasopharyngeal swabs that go deep into the nose and are incredibly uncomfortable. Some people describe the tests as tickling or even stabbing their brain. But there are kid-friendly options to test for the coronavirus that are faster, cheaper, and a hell of a lot more bearable.

Saliva Tests for COVID-19

In the early days of the pandemic, some experts were skeptical of looking for coronavirus in saliva samples. But this testing method is becoming more and more popular. Spitting into a test tube is more pleasant than getting swabbed in the back of the nose, and recent studies suggest it may be as accurate.

When getting a spit test for COVID-19, don’t eat, drink, or smoke for at least a half hour before your test. You will be asked to spit and drool between one and five milliliters of saliva into a small test tube, which can take up to 12 minutes. The sample is then shipped off to a lab and analyzed for the coronavirus. The time it takes before you get a result depends on the testing location or company you use.

Although tens of thousands of U.S. residents get their saliva tested for the coronavirus each day, that’s still only a small fraction of daily tests. Spit tests aren’t offered at all testing facilities, and it will be easier to get one in some states than others. If you live in Minnesota, for example, saliva tests are free and available to everyone. But if there aren’t options available in your area, you can get one delivered to your home from this list of at-home tests compiled by Fatherly.

The problem with saliva tests is that not all experts are convinced they’re reliable for diagnosing COVID-19. A recent study of 70 COVID-19 inpatients found that saliva tests detected more viral RNA than nasopharyngeal swabs. The saliva tests also identified two more cases than swabs in 13 asymptomatic health care workers. But other research has found that saliva tests miss more cases. “Some studies show that saliva is less reliable than nasopharyngeal swabs, and some studies show that saliva is better,” Michael Mina, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, told Time. “The jury is still out on the real role of saliva tests. But what we do know, is that there is potential for it. It can be a very powerful tool.”

Nasal and Throat Swabs for COVID-19

Not all swabs go as far back into the nose as the standard nasopharyngeal swab. Newer tests use a nasal swab that goes inside the nostrils but not as far so it

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