Navigating a Negative COVID-19 Test

negative covid-19 test swab

Everyone in your household is coughing, sneezing, aching, and feeling downright under the weather. You automatically assume COVID-19, and head for your swab tests. But to your surprise, the results come back negative–leaving you with more questions than answers.

How to navigate a negative COVID-19 test result while suffering symptoms

Here, we walk you through false negatives, other possible causes of illness, and what to do next.

Is it possible to receive a negative test result when you actually have COVID?

As with all diagnostic testing, false negative test results are possible. The risk of a false negative depends on the timing and sensitivity of the COVID-19 diagnostic test.

Always follow CDC guidelines on when to get tested, and consider choosing a PCR test. Highly sensitive PCR tests are the most accurate testing option available and can reduce the risk of false negatives.

A rapid antigen test may not detect the virus in your system during early stages. If you have COVID-19, and get an antigen test too soon, your result could come back negative, even though you are infected. If you are experiencing symptoms, continue isolating away from others and talk to a doctor about follow up testing.

Consider other illnesses with similar symptoms

During the ongoing pandemic, it’s natural for the mind to jump right to COVID at the first sign of respiratory symptoms. But, there are plenty of other viruses and bacteria that can contribute to coughs, congestion, and fevers.

If you test negative for COVID-19, but still aren’t feeling well, talk to your doctor about the possibility of flu, RSV, adenovirus, allergies, and strep. You may need additional testing and treatment to heal. Remember to stay home when you’re sick, and to give your body plenty of rest and fluids.

If you’re unsure about a negative COVID-19 test result, visit our clinic for expert care and advice.

Reduce Your Risk of Respiratory Illnesses

young boy washing hands to prevent respiratory illnesses

This fall, as students head back to in-person learning and football fans gather en-masse to kick off the new season, public health fears of COVID-19 and flu season loom large. Diminished mask mandates, colder temps, and more time spent indoors will almost certainly lead to an uptick in respiratory illnesses. Here’s what you should know regarding the spread of COVID-19, colds, flu, and RSV.

COVID-19 Outlook

Over the course of the pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has evolved. The highly contagious Delta variant is now the predominant variant in the US, and it’s causing more severe infections than previous forms of virus. People who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including young children, are most at risk.

The best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community is to get vaccinated. Though not perfect, the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States are highly effective against the Delta variant. The CDC recommends that everyone aged 12 years and older get a vaccine as soon as possible. Practicing additional prevention strategies, such as masking indoors in public places is also advised.

Colds, Flu, and RSV Risks

Last year’s public health measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, such as masking, physical distancing, and remote learning/work, dramatically reduced instances of cold and flu. Unfortunately, that makes the incoming flu season all the more unpredictable. With hardly any immunity against influenza or rhinoviruses, we will likely be more vulnerable to illness. Take, for example, the unseasonal surge in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) over the summer. This respiratory virus usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can lead to severe illness and complications in infants and older adults.

Take steps to prevent respiratory illnesses this fall:

  • Everyone aged 12 years and older should get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible
  • Every adult and child who is 6 months or older should get the flu vaccine in September or October
  • Wear a mask in public places
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, not your hand
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing utensils
  • Clean high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices
  • Stay home when you are sick

For cold-like symptoms or COVID-19 exposure concerns, head to our walk-in clinic for convenient testing and treatment. We’re here to care for you.

Warning Signs of Heat-Related Illness

man standing on soccer field shielding eyes from sun drink water symptoms of heat-related illness

Amid this summer’s heatwaves and record-breaking temperatures, it’s an important time to know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. Extended exposure to sun or heat can lead to everything from dehydration and muscle cramps, to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and even death. Learn how to identify and treat these conditions, and when it’s time to seek professional treatment.

Understanding Heat-Related Illness

Heat Cramps

If you’re an athlete or active person who trains in the summer, you’re likely familiar with heat cramps. Intense exercise in hot weather can bring on these painful, involuntary muscle spasms. Heat cramps can involve any muscle group, but are generally felt in the calves, arms, abs or back. While these muscle spasms are more intense and prolonged than your typical nighttime leg cramp, they aren’t cause for too much concern.

How to self-treat Heat Cramps:

  • Simply rest, cool down, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Clear juice, coconut water, or a sports drink can help you replenish electrolytes.
  • Gentle stretching and massage can ease pain.
  • Give your body time to recover, and don’t resume exercise for at least a few hours.

If your cramps last longer than an hour, call your doctor, or head to our urgent care clinic for a quick evaluation and advice.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a slightly more serious heat-related syndrome. Extended hours working or playing in the heat and sun, combined with dehydration, can lead to serious symptoms such as:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, clammy skin with goosebumps
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Headache

Left untreated, these symptoms can progress into life-threatening heatstroke. If you suspect heat exhaustion, here’s what to do immediately:

  • Get out of the heat and into a shady, cool, or air-conditioned place
  • Lay down and elevate legs and feet
  • Loosen clothing, removing anything tight or heavy
  • Cool down the body with cold towels, a cold bath, or mist
  • Sip cool water
  • Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages

If symptoms aren’t improving, or you begin throwing up, seek immediate medical treatment. An urgent care is a good choice for mild symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness, and requires emergency treatment. Symptoms include:

  • Body temperature of 103°F or higher
  • Flushed red skin that feels hot and dry
  • Racing pulse
  • Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, or otherwise altered behavior
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 or go directly to the ER. While waiting for emergency care, take steps to cool the overheated person down:

  • Move out of the sun and heat
  • Cool the person down with any means available – ice packs, wet towels, water from a garden hose, etc.
  • Do not give the person anything to drink

Take precautions against these conditions by staying hydrated, using sun protection, wearing light, loose clothing, and taking it easy when the temps rise.

 

For mild heat-related illness or concerns, visit our clinic.

Choosing a Sunscreen

choose the right sunscreen this summer - children playing at beach

While it’s important to wear sunscreen all year long, the sun’s UV rays are strongest during the summer months, making it a critical time to lather up. But, choosing a sunscreen can be tricky. With varying SPFs, water- and sweat-proof claims, and different textures (sprays, creams, sticks), it can be hard to know what’s what. Below, we guide you through choosing a sunscreen that is both safe and offers adequate protection.

Here’s what to look for in Sunscreen:

Opt for Broad Spectrum.

All sunscreens protect against UVB rays, the leading cause of sunburn and skin cancers. However, only products with the Broad Spectrum label will also guard against UVA rays. UVA rays can lead to premature aging and contribute to skin cancer.

Choose a Sunscreen with SPF 30 or Higher

Did you know that SPF stands for sun protection factor? It’s calculated based on the time it takes for skin to burn when treated with the sunscreen as compared to no sunscreen. SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97% of UVB rays.

Go with water-resistant.

When a product is labelled “water resistant”, it means that the SPF can last up to 40 minutes in water. “Very water resistant” can maintain the SPF for 80 minutes in water. However, it’s still possible for it to wash off while swimming or sweating. We recommend you reapply after each dip or strenuous activity to maintain adequate protection.Other things to consider when it comes to sunscreen:

  • The sun is strongest between 10am – 4pm.
  • Apply generously 15 minutes before you head outside, on all skin exposed to the sun. This includes your ears, scalp, neck, and tops of feet. Use a lip balm with SPF 30.
  • Use sunscreen even when it’s cloudy.
  • Always check the sunscreen’s expiration date.
  • Surfaces such as water, snow, and concrete can reflect rays and increase your risk of burning.
  • Don’t merely rely on sunscreen. Wear protective clothing, find shade, and limit your time in the direct sun.
We hope this information helps you have safe fun in the sun this summer.

If you suffer a sunburn or think you may have sun poisoning, head to our clinic today.

Summer Fire Safety

summer fire safety

Sweet summertime! Are you looking forward to lighting up the grill for some easy, delicious meals? Or, maybe you’re heading outdoors and ready for s’mores over a campfire. And 4th of July fireworks are right around the corner as well. While these seasonal pastimes sound even better after a long pandemic, it’s important to take summer fire safety seriously.

Campfire, grilling, and fireworks accidents cause thousands of burn injuries each year. Below, we provide fire safety tips to keep things safe, fun, and injury-free!

First things first: Make sure all members of your family know how to Stop, Drop, & Roll.

Campfire Safety

  • Check local regulations and always follow campfire rules.
  • Build campfires downwind and away from tents, chairs, hammocks, and shrubbery.
  • Prepare the site: clear away all vegetation, dig a pit, and surround it with rocks to prevent the fire from spreading.
  • Keep fires small and manageable. Skip using gasoline, liquid fire starter, or any other type of flammable liquid and store those items well away from the fire.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel nearby to use in an emergency.
  • Campfires should never be left unattended. When you’re done, put the campfire out with water and then use a shovel to bury the fire with dirt. Also wet down the area around the fire so it does not rekindle.

Grilling Safety

  • Move the grill away from siding, decking, and other things that can catch fire, such as overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill when it’s hot.
  • Stay with the grill the entire time you’re cooking.
  • Wear short sleeves (or roll them up) and use long mitts and long-handled grilling tools to avoid burns.
  • Keep your grill clean so leftover grease and fat won’t catch on fire.

Fireworks

Fireworks are best left to the professionals. Refrain from buying or lighting consumer fireworks. Instead, attend a public fireworks display to enjoy the spectacle safely.

Even sparklers require safety precautions. Never run with or throw a lit sparkler, and don’t hold more than one at a time. Hold the sparkler at arm’s length and wear closed toe shoes to prevent foot burns.

If you do suffer a minor burn this summer, follow these basic first aid steps.

Place the burn in cool water for three to five minutes, and loosely cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth. If the burn blisters or is bigger than your palm, head to our Urgent Care. It’s important to see a doctor if a burn is showing any signs of infection. If a burn is life-threatening, call 9-1-1 or go straight to the ER.