COVID, or Allergies? How to Tell the Difference

If you suffer from allergies, you may feel more reasons for concern this year than in seasons past.

This time last year, we would have raised eyebrows learning our reality would become cocooning ourselves away from each other, wearing protective face masks when daring to venture outside for milk and eggs, and disinfecting everything in sight. Indeed, it’s bizarre to step outside the house and right away fight the urge to sneeze, fearing a skeptical side-eye from other passersby. And if you’re prone to seasonal allergies, you may be concerned about either causing distress to others or, more seriously, whether you may have the COVID-19 virus.

That said, there are some symptomatic differences to note between COVID-19 and those pesky allergies.

Knowing how to spot their distinctions should bring you some peace of mind. The key is watching for variations that stray from your typical seasonal allergies. So, during this pollen-brushed time of year, here’s how to distinguish COVID-19 symptoms from those caused by spring allergies.

How are COVID-19 and allergies similar?

Because both conditions appear to resemble each other, it’s understandable how both sets of symptoms get confused for one another. COVID-19 and allergies affect the respiratory system: allergies can cause inflammation in the lungs, while the coronavirus can affect either the upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs).

Signs of the coronavirus that resemble those of allergies can include cough, fatigue, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, congestion, or runny nose.

How are the symptoms different?

Allergy sufferers may breathe with difficulty due to congestion, but they shouldn’t have shortness of breath or fever unless they have asthma. They’re also more prone to sinus pressure rather than the pain of a headache.

As we’ve learned, the virus has multiple symptoms: fever, chills, muscle and body aches, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These could betray several different ailments, including the common cold, the flu, or a stomach virus. None of these, however, overlap with allergy signs.

In the wintertime, an ongoing question floated throughout the season of how to differentiate signs of COVID-19 from those of the flu. Just the same, specialists advised watching for that same stand-out symptom: loss of taste or smell.

When should I seek medical attention to determine if I may have COVID-19?

  • Your allergies aren’t improving after taking over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops, and/or allergy prescriptions after 3-4 days, and your symptoms are worsening.
  • You’ve developed additional symptoms, such as a significant headache, fever, cough, decreased sense of taste or smell, or gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
  • You’re experiencing both allergy and/or COVID-19-like symptoms
  • You’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Conclusion

Trying to figure whether you might have COVID-19 or simply allergies can be a headache – but it doesn’t have to be. Learn to spot the symptoms that stand out from the usual allergy giveaways – loss of smell or taste, shortness of breath, and headache -, and you’ll be able to spot the difference.

However, if you are experiencing symptoms, we advise following the CDC guidelines of staying home unless to seek medical care and wash your hands regularly.

COVID, or Allergies? How to Tell the Difference2021-04-01T20:38:26+00:00

Traveling and COVID-19: Understand the Testing Requirements

Traveling and COVID-19: Understand the Testing Requirements

Over the last year, traveling has slowed for many people within North and South Carolina and even for those around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on airlines and the travel industry. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), air travel fell by 60 percent in 2020.

Now, perhaps for work, vacation, or possibly even an emergency, you are packing up to fly off somewhere. Each state and country has established rules and regulations to ensure the safety of travelers and residents.

Whether you are gearing up to travel across the state, across the country, or around the world, you may be wondering about the current traveling restrictions and testing requirements.

Should you get tested for COVID-19 before traveling?

Do you need to delay travel if you are waiting for a COVID-19 antibody test result?

What do you need to do if you test positive for COVID-19 prior to travel?

What documentation is needed for traveling?

How soon after traveling should you get tested?

Read on for these answers and more as we explain the current updates on COVID-19 testing requirements for traveling.

Travel Requirements and COVID Testing

Traveling follows many of the same CDC guidelines as general activities within your community. Face masks or facial coverings are required on airplanes, buses, trains, subways, and other forms of public transportation. This includes traveling within and out of the United States. 

Maintaining social distancing is hard, if not impossible, while traveling. To protect travelers and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, testing before and after may be recommended.

Unless otherwise noted, the following information mostly pertains to requirements for air passengers. The CDC currently recommends that all travelers avoid going on cruises. This is due to the ease of disease transmission within the close quarters of cruise ships. If you do choose to travel by ship, COVID-19 testing requirements still apply.

Should You Get Tested for COVID-19 Before Traveling?

Every state and country maintains its own list of testing requirements. Be sure to check the destination requirements well in advance so you have time to get tested if it is required. If COVID testing is required, you will need to obtain a viral test no more than 3 days prior to your flight. Keep your negative test results or proof of recovery (positive test result and note of recovery from your doctor) with you.

If you are traveling within the United States, check your local and state testing requirements. At this time, North and South Carolina do not require COVID-19 testing for traveling.

For international travelers, every country has its own entry requirements. Some are still limiting entry for US passengers. Additionally, the United States requires all passengers, including US citizens, to have a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entry back into the country. 

Do You Need to Delay Travel If You Are Waiting for a COVID-19 Antibody Test Result?

Prior to traveling, you may need results from a viral COVID-19 test which checks for an active infection. Testing must be done 1-3 days before you travel. If you are still awaiting results, you must delay your trip.

What Do You Need to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19 Prior to Travel?

You cannot travel if you test positive for COVID-19. The CDC can restrict travel for individuals who pose a threat to public health.

If you do test positive, quarantine yourself from others to prevent the spread of the disease as you recover. Once you have recovered, contact your health provider. If you plan to travel, you will need a note stating that you are cleared for travel. The letter must be written on an official letterhead.

What Documentation Is Needed for Traveling?

Keep your COVID-19 testing documentation with you while traveling. You may need to show proof of your negative test results or your positive results with your letter of recovery. If you require a letter of recovery, it must be written on an official letterhead by a health care professional or public health official.

How Soon After Traveling Should You Get Tested for COVID-19?

The CDC recommends that all travelers get tested 3-5 days after traveling. Travelers should also quarantine for 7 days regardless of test results. If you choose not to get tested, the recommendation is to stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days.

Understanding the COVID Tests

With various types of tests available, how do you know which COVID-19 test you need? 

The Rapid Antigen Test, Rapid RT-LAMP, and RT-PCR test show current infections. The antibody tests show evidence of a previous infection.

How Are People Tested for COVID-19?

COVID-19 tests include rapid testing, molecular testing, and antibody testing. Rapid antigen testing provides results onsite within 10 minutes through a nasal or throat swab. This test is not accepted for travel. 

Molecular testing is considered the most accurate and is also performed through a nasal or throat swab. Results are analyzed by a laboratory and are available within 24-72 hours.

Antibody testing is done with a blood test through a simple finger prick. Results are usually available within minutes. Please note, Carolina Pharmacy does not perform antibody testing at this time.

What COVID Tests Are Used for Traveling?

The COVID-19 testing requirements for air travel to foreign countries or domestic travel include the use of a viral test. This shows if you have an active infection. Viral tests include the rapid test and molecular test. 

Currently, results from the Rapid RT-LAMP and RT-PCR are accepted for travel. Results are available within 24 hours with the RT-LAMP test and within 24-72 hours for the RT-PCR test. RT-PCR test results often have roughly a 24-hour turnaround time with weekday testing and roughly a 72-hour turnaround time with weekend testing.

COVID-19 Testing at Carolina Pharmacy

Carolina Pharmacy offers COVID-19 testing throughout the greater Charlotte area including Greenville, Rock Hill, and Lancaster, SC. We offer diagnostic COVID-19 testing, not antibody testing. For patients who are traveling, we will provide you with the full laboratory results to ensure you have the appropriate documentation.

Concierge Travel Services

Carolina Pharmacy provides concierge travel planning to help you safely plan your trip. Simply email covidtesting@carolinapharmacy.com and let us know where you are traveling. Our team will respond back within a few minutes to an hour. Based on your destination, we will provide you with information regarding what test(s) to choose, when to book your test, and what the results will look like.

You can focus on your packing for your trip while we take care of the COVID-19 details. Let us take the stress out of your travel plans.

Schedule Your COVID Test Today!

Contact Carolina Pharmacy today for more information on COVID-19 testing for traveling. Schedule your Rapid COVID-19 test today!

Traveling and COVID-19: Understand the Testing Requirements2021-03-31T18:31:38+00:00

What is COVID-19 Antibody Testing?

What is COVID-19 Antibody Testing?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease stemming from a novel coronavirus that had not been seen in humans. First identified in December 2019, the name is broken down as follows: CO=corona, VI= virus, D=disease.

Since then, COVID-19 has been the life-changing topic of discussion for the past year. From protecting ourselves, understanding the symptoms, testing, and vaccines, the virus is a constant source of news. 

With the different tests available, you may not know which test you need. The Rapid Antigen Test, the molecular or RT-PCR test, and the antibody test have different testing methods, purposes, and findings. In a recent blog post, we discussed each test, but here we will delve further into the COVID antibody test.

Please note that Carolina Pharmacy offers diagnostic COVID-19 testing but does not offer the serology or antibody tests.

Read on to learn more about what COVID-19 antibody testing is, its uses, and what a positive test result means.

Understanding the COVID Antibody Test

To understand the purpose of antibody testing, you must first understand antibodies. When you get sick, your immune system kicks in to defend the body. Antibodies are large, Y-shaped proteins that identify and neutralize foreign materials such as bacteria or viruses. 

The antibodies recognize specific molecules called antigens within the pathogenic material. The specific design of each antibody allows it to bind to the antigen. That molecule is then marked to be attacked or neutralized by the immune system.

What Is the COVID-19 Antibody Test?

Serology or antibody tests are used to detect a recent or prior COVID-19 infection. The antibody test looks for the presence of antibodies which are created in response to infections. A simple blood test detects the antibodies that would be present if an immune response occurred due to a COVID infection.

Uses of the Antibody Test

The COVID-19 antibody test is used to check for a prior infection, not a current one. Antibody tests are important for patients who were asymptomatic meaning they did not show symptoms or signs of an active infection. 

What You Should Know About the COVID-19 Antibody Test

While the antibody tests for COVID-19 show if your body has developed an immune response to the disease, timing is crucial. False negative and false positive results are possible if the test is performed too early in an infection.

How Soon Will the Antibody Test Show Positive for COVID-19?

Antibodies are the proteins that arise in response to an infection or vaccine. Your body begins to make these proteins 1-3 weeks after the infection. Because of this time frame, antibody tests should not be used to check for an active COVID-19 infection. 

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you may be early enough in an infection that the antibodies have not yet developed. This could cause a negative test result.

Ideally, an antibody test is performed at least 14 days after an infection has started. This ensures the body has had time to develop antibodies.

What Does a Positive Antibody Test Mean?

A positive antibody test result does not mean you have an active infection.

Patients who test positive but do not have symptoms and have not been exposed are unlikely to have an active infection. According to the CDC, these patients can continue with their normal routines. 

However, those who test positive AND are currently sick or have been exposed should take the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the disease. To confirm an active infection, a diagnostic test such as the Rapid Antigen or molecular test would need to be performed.

Additionally, a positive test result does not mean the patient is not contagious. He/she could still be within an active infection. Positive results do not equal immunity. At this time, we do not know if antibodies are enough to create immunity to the disease or for how long.

Where Can I Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test?

Antibody tests are available through some healthcare providers, laboratories, and public health officials. Carolina Pharmacy does not offer COVID-19 antibody tests. To find a testing location near you, consult the Department of Health’s website for North Carolina or South Carolina.

Protect Yourself Against COVID-19

The best way to defend yourself and your loved ones against COVID is by following the CDC’s recommendations. Wash your hands frequently. Practice social distancing and avoid crowded areas. Wear a face mask when you are around others who do not live in your home.

COVID-19 Testing at Carolina Pharmacy

If you have symptoms or have been exposed, Carolina Pharmacy offers COVID-19 testing in Charlotte, NC and the surrounding areas. We do not offer antibody testing, but we do provide diagnostic COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test

Carolina Pharmacy offers Rapid COVID-19 testing in Charlotte. The Rapid Antigen test provides results in as little as 10 minutes. Positive results are highly accurate. False positives are possible if the test is performed too early in an infection. The Rapid Test is recommended at 5 days past exposure.

COVID-19 RT-PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Test

In addition, we offer the COVID-19 RT-PCR test in Charlotte. Results from the molecular test are available within approximately 72 hours. This test is highly accurate and does not need to be repeated. 

Some employers may require this test before allowing their employees to return to work. It may also be required prior to traveling. 

Contact Carolina Pharmacy today for more information on diagnostic and COVID-19 antibody testing in Charlotte, NC. Schedule your Rapid COVID-19 test today!

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What is COVID-19 Antibody Testing?2021-03-09T18:26:28+00:00
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