Health experts warn against swabbing throat vs. nose with COVID test kits

Posted at 9:23 AM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 09:23:25-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new online trend is causing concern among health experts and it has to do with the way you're administering your at-home COVID-19 test.

Rather than swabbing just the inside of the nose, some people are swabbing their throats with the kits.

Health experts with the Kent County Health Department say this is not safe and could impact the accuracy of your results.

The hashtag #swabyourthroat has shown up on TikTok and Twitter, with people sharing their experiences of testing negative when swabbing their nose, but positive when they swab their throat.

This is because studies have shown saliva might be a better way to detect the omicron variant.

This isn't anything new, the UK government issued a video on how to properly administer an at-home throat swab.

But the US Food and Drug Administration is cautioning against this and is saying to use the nose swabs as directed.

Immunization supervisor and nurse Mary Wisinki at the Kent County Health Department saying not only is a throat swab the wrong way to administer the at-home COVID-19 test, but it can be a safety concern.

"If people are, you know, going to get too far in the back of their throat, they could choke themselves," said Wisinski. "My other concern is that that test was not designed for that use. In the future, we might have oral tests for rapid COVID testing, but we don't currently. So your best advice is to follow the directions on that package."

Wisinski says how you test is as important as when you test and says some people are testing too early after exposure.

Following the CDC's guidelines of waiting 5 days after exposure is best practice according to Wisinki so that the viral load (if it's there) is significant enough to be detected.

When it comes to the accuracy of at-home testing - if you have the symptoms and it's positive, believe it.

If it's negative and you have symptoms, follow it up with a PCR test.

Also, consult with your doctor for the best guidance on your personal situation.

For more information on CDC recommendations, click here.