Most of us are so tired of hearing about the pandemic or anything to do with COVID-19. Our lives were turned upside down almost two years ago, and many of us lost friends and loved ones to that relentless virus.
As time has progressed, effective vaccines have been released and treatments have improved. The fact of the matter is, however, that the virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We will still need to get tested regularly to protect the most vulnerable people among us.
The thought of getting a PCR test may send shivers down your spine, but the good news is that research has shown that new saliva tests are almost as accurate as the swabs are at detecting COVID-19.
If you are going for a saliva test soon to check whether you have the virus, here are six things that you need to know first to ensure that your test is not rejected:
- Don’t Drink
It is theoretically possible for alcohol to denature the viral RNA so that it cannot be detected during the testing process. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t sick, all it means is that there won’t be enough detectable viral particles in your saliva to yield a positive result.
This tip is particularly important if you are doing a self-collection test. You must take the appropriate precautions for not allowing alcoholic substances to interfere with your test results.
- Do Not Eat
Visible clumps of food or other residues will result in your sample being rejected by the lab. That could contaminate your test results and end up being a waste of time and money. The best thing to do is fast from when you wake up in the morning, until after your test is complete.
If you cannot manage that, then refrain from eating or drinking for an hour before your test.
- Do Not Wear Lip Products
Avoid contaminating your specimen and test results by washing off any lipstick or lip balm at least an hour before your test. The lab needs a clean and clear saliva specimen to work with. Your saliva should be clear and not discolored.
- Don’t Smoke
Other than for obvious health reasons, you should not smoke before getting a saliva test done. Smoking almost always dries out the mouth, thereby reducing your ability to produce an adequate saliva specimen. Stop smoking or vaping long before your test.
- Do Not Brush Your Teeth
We all brush our teeth before we visit the dentist. Mostly to spare them of our lunch breath, but sometimes to pretend that we have great oral hygiene habits (even if we don’t).
You should not brush your teeth before using a saliva collection kit because this could contaminate your specimen and lead to inconclusive test results. When collecting your sample – avoid swishing your saliva in your mouth or pulling it from the back of your mouth.
- Drink Water
Being adequately hydrated is vital to collecting a decent specimen of saliva. Drink plenty of water to ensure that your saliva production is running optimally. Pool your saliva under your tongue when you are ready to collect it. Stop drinking water in the hour before your test.
Do not deposit too much saliva – you only need around 1.5ml of liquid. It is okay if your saliva is bubbly, but do not include the bubbles in your measurement. If you’re not doing a home test, then keep yourself close to a toilet, just in case.
- General Tips
Here are a few more handy tips that will help you get an accurate test result:
- Think of sour foods. That will help you to produce saliva.
- Do not clear your throat; this is a saliva test – not a mucus one.
- Stimulate the gums behind your teeth to get them to produce more saliva. That saliva can then be deposited into the funnel of your test kit.
- Act like you are chewing food because that helps to produce saliva.
- Don’t think of gross things – you don’t want to risk making yourself sick and contaminating your mouth.
- Do not chew gum or floss your teeth; these can contaminate your results just like food and smoking does.
- Smoking includes all forms of it – including vaping and e-cigarettes.
Saliva tests for COVID-19 are a painless, uncomplicated way to get results. We have to learn to live with this virus so the least we can do is make sure that we minimize the unpleasantness of the testing.
For anyone that has had a PCR test done, you’ll understand how uncomfortably sore they can be. Most people would opt for a saliva test instead in a heartbeat!