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Bottom Line: What you need to know about at-home COVID-19 tests

At-home COVID rapid tests - BinaxNOW
At-home COVID rapid tests - BinaxNOW
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 7:20 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/CONSUMER REPORTS) - By now, most of us are familiar with home COVID tests. But there are many other “at home” medical tests, for everything from hormone levels to HIV. But before you start swabbing, Consumer Reports has a warning: Some of these tests are not reliable and should be avoided.

Many of the tests are straightforward, like the COVID-19 test. But the problem is that there are others with questionable quality. These could leave you with confusing results, which could lead to unnecessary follow-up testing and treatments, or delay needed care.

Some of the more useful at-home tests are those for chronic conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure. These tests can help people manage these chronic conditions at home, which can save them trips to the doctor.

Also useful is the FDA-approved home test for HIV. It’s key for people without a healthcare provider or who are concerned about their privacy.

At-home tests you should be wary of are tests that focus more on your wellness, like tests that measure hormone levels, food sensitivities, and stress.

The FDA generally doesn’t review what it considers “wellness” tests, which tend not to diagnose a specific condition. Some might also give unreliable results. You should look for at-home tests authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

And as a general rule, it’s always a good idea to first check with your doctor to make sure home testing is right for you. It’s possible you could also save money by getting the same test through your doctor, which would often be covered by insurance.

And if you decide to test at home, always check the expiration dates and storage directions on your test. And follow the instructions carefully — the test provider may even have an online tutorial that can be very helpful.

Be sure to also discuss any results you may get from an at-home test with your healthcare provider about possible next steps.

“Consumer Reports TV News” is published by Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization that does not accept advertising and does not have any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site

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