Dealing with COVID-19 without fear –2: do the test earlyMore than the fear of catching the virus is this fear of doing the test because it leads to the fear, "What if the test is positive?" Get practical, everyone. Don't think of yourself alone. Think of the people you stay with (family members) and those with whom you interact (office colleagues, shopkeepers, etc). If you have a symptom and avoid or delay doing the test, later your health may worsen, then only you wake up to do the test and it turns out positive…just think of the number of people whose life you have risked because you were too frightened to do the test.
Speaking of the symptoms - we've generally been told as the most common to look for are fever, continuous cough and sore throat, breathlessness, etc. Generally, an oximeter comes handy to check low oxygen levels when somebody is breathless, and that is fine if you do have very elderly people at home and consider it a necessity. However, as mentioned in the previous suggestion, it must not to be the case that only when the oxygen level drops that the doctor should be contacted (and by the way, how reliable the readings of an oximeter are, I frankly do not know).
Did you know that a possible indication of the onset of the virus can also be excessive tiredness, a gastric problem, and being in a daze? "Some people are asymptomatic, while others might experience a variety of symptoms—including dry cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of sense of smell or taste, gastrointestinal issues, or even pink eye." Reference: https://in.style.yahoo.com/happens-lungs-covid-141151237.html (within this article is a related article on symptoms).
Now, don't panic and go into over-drive! A sign of indigestion can simply mean that – indigestion only, nothing more. If it continues to persist, though, despite whatever medication is prescribed for you by your GP, and nausea, inability to eat, vomiting, etc are ongoing as well, please do consider doing the test. This is what seemed to have happened in the case of my relatives. They had no typical symptoms of fever, cold, continuous coughing or breathlessness. Although they did mention an upset stomach, but no nausea and vomiting, they were finding it difficult to eat proper meals. We got alarmed when it went beyond 4-5 days, and the conversation on the phone became progressively incoherent with a wobbly, garbled voice. A relevant article: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/4-in-5-covid-patients-in-hospital-show-neurologic-symptoms-study-2305786
Anyway, finally the Covid test was done. As of today, my relatives are recovering in the hospital with oxygen and relevant medications.
I once again reiterate that one should not panic, that the onset of a symptom may not necessarily be an indication of Covid-19, such as a fever being simply a viral flu and nothing more. Yet, you need to stay alert, especially if there are senior citizens in your home. The slightest sign of something off, something that is not what it should be – get the test done pronto. The thing is that there is so much about the virus that is unknown. Each time one research study mentions one symptom, another research study will come up with some further symptoms connected to COVID-19.
The test is known as the RT-PCR Test and it involves taking a swab of the throat and nose. Please get the test done only through an authorized lab. The State-wise list of labs is available here- https://www.icmr.gov.in/pdf/covid/labs/COVID_Testing_Labs_07102020.pdf
Also, do not rely wholly on the Antigen test simply because you want to get the result fast. Please refer to the directive issued by the Union Health Ministry in this article - https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-centre-flags-violation-of-covid-19-testing-norms/article32570116.ece
Be safe, don't fear, take an informed decision and if required do the test early when something is not quite right.