Rapid Antigen Test, Here's What You Should Know

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Rapid Antigen Test, Here's What You Should Know
Rapid Antigen Test, Here's What You Should Know
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Rapid antigen test is a quick test to detect the presence of certain antigens in a person's body. Rapid antigen tests are generally only performed for screening, and the sample used depends on the disease to be detected

Antigens are foreign substances that can trigger the immune system to form a resistance reaction in the form of antibodies. The rapid antigen test aims to detect the antigen, namely by examining a sample of the patient's blood or throat mucus.

Rapid Antigen Test, Here's What You Should Know - Alodokter

Antigens usually come from outside the body (heteroantigens), for example from bacteria or viruses. The presence of antigens from certain bacteria or viruses in the body indicates an infection.

Indications of Rapid Antigen Test

Rapid antigen tests are generally performed on patients suspected of having the following diseases:

  • COVID-19
  • Influenza
  • Malaria
  • Streptococcus bacterial infection
  • Hepatitis B
  • Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, rapid antigen testing was also carried out on people who did not experience any symptoms, but had the following factors:

  • Making close contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19
  • Planning to undergo treatment or treatment in a hospital
  • Working in areas that do not allow optimal he alth protocols
  • Working in a hospital or other he alth facility

Antigen Rapid Test Alert

Before undergoing the rapid antigen test, there are several things that must be known, namely:

  • The results of the rapid antigen test can be influenced by the way saliva or mucus samples are taken, the way the sample is handled before being tested, and the test equipment used
  • Rapid antigen test results are not always accurate, they can be false positives or false negatives
  • To confirm the diagnosis of infection, the results of the rapid antigen test must be followed by other tests, such as RT-PCR, microorganism culture, or rapid antibody tests

Antigen swab examination or rapid antigen test is not recommended to be done alone at home because errors can occur in sampling.This can make the test results show a false negative or false positive. This means that the result could be negative, but it's not necessarily true.

Therefore, to diagnose COVID-19 a clinical examination from a doctor is required along with PCR.

Antigen Rapid Test Procedure

The process carried out by doctors in the rapid antigen test procedure depends on the sample used. The sample can be mucus taken by a swab process from the nose, throat, or other body parts, it can also be blood taken by sticking a needle into the tip of the finger.

The following are the steps in the rapid antigen test using a throat mucus sample:

  • The doctor will ask the patient to blow the nose from the nose if there is one.
  • The doctor will ask the patient to raise his head, making it easier for the mucus sample to be collected. If the sample is taken by mouth, the doctor will ask the patient to open the mouth as wide as possible.
  • The doctor will insert a swab that resembles a long cotton swab into the nose or mouth, and push it up into the nasopharynx, which is the top part of the throat located behind the nose.
  • The doctor will rotate or move the swab for about 15 seconds so that the mucus in the nasopharynx sticks to the device.
  • After that, the doctor will slowly withdraw the swab from the nose or mouth.

While the rapid antigen test uses a blood sample from the patient's fingertip (finger prick), the steps are as follows:

  • The doctor will clean the patient's fingertips with alcohol.
  • A special tool with a needle at the end will be inserted into the patient's fingertips.
  • The fingertip of the patient who has been injured by the needle will be pressed until the blood from the wound drips onto the rapid test device.
  • The doctor will drop an antigen-detecting liquid (reagent) onto a rapid test device that has previously been dripped with a patient's blood sample.

After Antigen Rapid Test

Patients can immediately find out the results of the rapid antigen test about 15 minutes after the test is completed. Rapid antigen results can be positive, i.e. the presence of antigen is detected; or negative, that is, no antigen was detected.

Patients who get a positive rapid antigen test result may be advised to:

  • Doing self-isolation for 14 days
  • Understanding follow-up examinations to get a more accurate diagnosis
  • Consuming drugs, either to treat disease, relieve symptoms, or prevent complications
  • Check yourself back to the doctor if your symptoms worsen

Risk of Antigen Rapid Test

The rapid antigen test rarely causes serious side effects or complications. The patient may only feel slight discomfort when the swab is inserted into the nose and throat or a slight pain when the needle is inserted into the fingertip.

In addition, please note that the rapid antigen test results can be false positive or false negative. A false positive means that the test shows a positive result, even though there is no antigen in the sample being tested. On the other hand, a false negative indicates a negative result, even though there is an antigen in the sample being tested.

False negative results can make patients careless to prevent the spread of disease, while false positive results can make patients worried about their he alth. Therefore, patients are advised not to conclude the rapid antigen test results as a diagnosis without confirmation from a doctor.

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