A woman in her 40s leaks cerebral fluid after she has done a swab test for COVID-19. Shortly after the swab test, the woman’s nose started to drip a large amount of clear fluid. Her head felt hurt and she began to vomit due to her nauseousness. Afterwards, the woman’s head and neck got stiff, and she tasted metal. The doctor has diagnosed the woman has a hole at the bottom of her skull after CT scanning. The University of Iowa doctors noted that the swab test is not the only reason to cause the leak. The woman has an undiagnosed skull defect where there is a small opening in the skull. The swab test has widened the opening and cause the fluid to leak through the opening.
The cerebral fluid is the fluid surrounding brain and spinal cord. The function of the fluid is to protect the brain and spiral system from injury. Besides, the fluid also transports nutrients and remove waste from the brain and spiral system.
COVID-19 diagnostic testing
There are 2 types of tests for diagnosing COVID-19, which are diagnostic test (known as Polymerase Chain Reaction, PCR test) and antigen test.
1. Diagnostic test (PCR test)
This test can identify the presence of specific genes of SARS-Cov-2 which causes the COVID-19 in a sample of cells and fluids from the respiratory system. The sample is collected by inserting a long nasal swab into the passageway between the nose and the back of the throat. The result will be available within a few minutes if the healthcare workers carry out the test onsite. It may take a few days or longer to analyze the result if they sent the sample for analysis in an external lab. PCR test carried out by healthcare professional gives highly accurate result. However, the accuracy may drop slightly if the rapid test is applied.
2. Antigen test
This test can detect the presence of specific protein in the virus that caused COVID-19. The doctors or nurses collect a fluid sample using nasal or throat swab, and the result may be obtained within a few minutes. When there is a large number of people who need to test for the virus, it is more suitable to use this test due to its efficiency in obtaining the result and lower cost compared to PCR test. However, there is a possibility to have a false negative result from the test. This means that patient infected with coronavirus may get a negative result from the test. Therefore, doctors recommend to carry out a PCR test if antigen test gives a negative result.
Is it necessary for everyone to test for COVID-19?
It is not really necessary for everyone to test for COVID-19 infection, and the healthcare industry is also not likely to have the ability to test for each of everyone. However, it is important for a certain group of people to go through COVID-19 test:
- People who show symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or tiredness
- People who have in contact with COVID-19 patients or those who are suspected to be infected with the virus
- People with the weaker immune system such as people age 65 and above
- People who are unable to practice safe social distance such as healthcare workers, first responders and grocery store workers
- People in a confined living condition such as prisoners
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