Can I Get a Respiratory Infection Test at Home?

Technically, you can test for respiratory infections at home. However, do not expect accurate results. While home test kits are convenient, they are prone to errors and not as precise as tests conducted in a laboratory setting.

For a comprehensive diagnosis, especially in cases of severe symptoms or if you’re considered high-risk, seeking professional healthcare advice is recommended. If your symptoms are preventing you from stepping out of the house or visiting a clinic, you can always book an online consultation with Instant Consult.

Whether you’re seeking medical advice or referrals for a comprehensive respiratory panel test, you can talk to our AHPRA-accredited doctors from the comfort of your own home. They can also help with prescriptions such as keflex prescription and uti medication prescription. Specialist referrals like ultrasound referral and x-ray referral, and even medical certificates.

You don’t have to worry about driving to your GP’s clinic when you have a fever or get stuck in the waiting room while coughing your lungs out. Plus, using telehealth reduces infection spread by cutting down physical contact. Instant Consult makes managing respiratory infections straightforward, offering quick access to healthcare when it’s most needed.

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Understanding Respiratory Tract Infection

Respiratory infections happen when viruses and bacteria invade our respiratory system. These pathogens, including influenza viruses, coronavirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), find a way in, often through the air we breathe. Once inside, they settle in our nasal passages, throat, or lungs. This invasion triggers our immune system to fight back, causing inflammation and the typical signs of an infection.

Our body’s response to these invaders can affect how we feel in significant ways. For instance, when the immune system battles against pathogens like adenovirus, rhinovirus, or parainfluenza virus, it can lead to swelling in the affected areas. This swelling is our body’s attempt to rid itself of the infection. But it can also lead to discomfort and sometimes more severe complications, especially in young children, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems.

Common Respiratory Infections

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), respiratory infections are a major concern, especially in pediatric populations. The most common ones include:

  • Common Cold: Often caused by rhinovirus, it’s a mild upper respiratory infection. Symptoms include a runny nose and sore throat.
  • Influenza: Caused by influenza A and influenza B viruses, this can lead to more severe symptoms and complications, especially in high-risk groups.
  • Pneumonia: This lower respiratory tract infection can be caused by bacteria like Mycoplasma pneumoniae or viruses, including coronavirus and influenza.
  • Bronchitis: Inflammation of the bronchial tubes, often following a cold or flu. It can be acute or chronic.
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Particularly dangerous for young children and the elderly, RSV can lead to serious respiratory issues like bronchiolitis.
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  • COVID-19: A viral infection caused by SARS-CoV-2, it has led to a global pandemic. Symptoms range widely from mild to severe respiratory distress.
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis): Caused by Bordetella pertussis, this bacterial infection leads to severe coughing fits.
  • Tuberculosis: A serious bacterial infection affecting the lungs caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • Human Metapneumovirus: Similar to RSV, this virus is a common cause of respiratory infections in children and can lead to conditions like bronchiolitis and pneumonia in susceptible individuals.
  • Enterovirus: These viruses can cause various respiratory symptoms, especially in children. They’re known for being highly contagious.

Infectious diseases like these often lead to syndromic presentations, where multiple symptoms occur together, complicating diagnosis and treatment. Co-infections, where two or more pathogens infect a person at the same time, are also common, especially in young children.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment options for respiratory tract infections depend on the cause:

  • Viral infections: Often managed with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter antiviral remedies.
  • Bacterial infections: Treated with antibiotics.
  • Severe cases: May require hospitalization.

Prevention measures include frequent handwashing, vaccinations, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and wearing masks in crowded places.

How Do You Test for Respiratory Infection?

There are various methods and types of respiratory infection tests. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Sample Collection

  • Swab: This involves taking a sample taken from the nose or throat. It can either be a nasopharyngeal swab (upper respiratory tract) or a throat swab (back of the throat).
  • Sputum: Analyse mucus from the lungs.
  • Blood: Identify markers of infection in the blood.

Common Types of Tests

Those samples (swabs, sputum, and blood) are subjected to various diagnostic testing methods to detect the presence of viruses, bacteria, and antibodies. These tests include:

  • Molecular Tests: These assays include Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and are known for their sensitivity in detecting nucleic acids of respiratory pathogens and subtypes like influenza virus, RSV, SARS-CoV-2, and enterovirus.
  • Rapid Antigen Tests: Offer quick results by detecting viral proteins. They’re less accurate than PCR tests.
  • Multiplex PCR: Can identify multiple pathogens at once, including bacteria and viruses like adenovirus, rhinovirus, and Bordetella pertussis.
  • Serology Tests: Look for antibodies in the blood, indicating past infections.
  • Chest X-rays: Help visualise lung infections, such as pneumonia. Not a direct test but supports diagnosis.
  • Pulse Oximetry: Measures oxygen levels in the blood. Useful for assessing the severity of respiratory infections.
  • Microbiology Tests: Involve culturing samples to detect bacterial infections. Essential for identifying pathogens like Bordetella pertussis and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
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Why Get a Respiratory Infection Test

Getting tested for a respiratory infection is crucial for several reasons, such as:

  • Accurate Diagnosis and Treatment: Tests identify the specific pathogen causing your symptoms. This ensures you get the right treatment.
  • Preventing Spread: If you know you’re infected, you can take steps to avoid passing the illness to others, especially important for those at high risk.
  • Co-infection Identification: Tests can reveal if you’re dealing with more than one infection at a time, which is crucial for effective treatment.
  • Reducing Complications: Early detection can prevent complications, especially in vulnerable groups.

How to Organise a Respiratory Infection Test Online

Organising your respiratory infection test in Australia has become more convenient and easier with Instant Consult. Here’s how:

  1. Book an Online Consultation: You will need a referral for most respiratory tests. So, the first thing you need to do is get your referral by booking an online consultation with one of our Australian registered doctors. Start by downloading the Instant Consult app and signing up or logging in to your account. Then click on the “Request a Consult” button to connect with our doctors.
  2. Chat With Your Doctor: During the video consultation, discuss your symptoms, medications, and medical history. They may also ask you about certain health information to assess your medical needs more effectively.
  3. Get Your Referral: If your doctor agrees that a respiratory test is necessary, they will send the referral to your device right after the call.
  4. Get Tested: Bring your referral to your preferred diagnostic testing provider. A staff will take your samples (blood, swab, or sputum) and send them to a laboratory for analysis.
  5. Receive Your Results: The time it takes to get test results can vary. Some rapid tests offer results in minutes, while others, like PCR tests, may take a few days. Note that your results will be sent directly to us (or your GP requested). Once your results are available, we will notify you via SMS, email, or through the app.
  6. Book a Follow-up Consultation: When you get the notice, you’ll need to book another online consultation so our doctors can discuss your results. Depending on the results, they may issue prescriptions, request another pathology or radiology test, or refer you to a specialist.

Can I Test Negative and Still Have a Respiratory Infection?

While a positive result confirms an infection, a negative one doesn’t always rule it out completely. A false negative can sometimes occur due to:

  • Timing of the Test: If you get tested too early or too late in the infection cycle, the test might not detect the virus or bacteria.
  • Type of Test: Some tests may not be as sensitive as PCR tests. This means they might miss an infection.
  • Sample Quality: The accuracy of the test also depends on the quality of the sample collected. A poorly collected sample can lead to a false negative.

If you continue to experience symptoms, don’t hesitate to follow up with your regular GP. Don’t let respiratory infections get in your way, especially now that Instant Consult makes it so convenient to manage your health wherever you are. Book an online consultation today!

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Instant access to chat with a doctor with a comprehensive range of services

With Instant Consult, you can chat with a doctor and get help for a wide range of medical requests, all from the comfort of your home!

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Certificates

Are you too ill to come into work and need to give your boss a medical certificate? With Instant Consult you can chat with a doctor and get a medical certificate sent directly to your app’s inbox, all without getting out of bed!

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Prescriptions

If you need a new prescription or need to update an ongoing one then you can use our app to instantly chat to a doctor who can prepare your prescription promptly!

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Referrals

If you have a medical condition that needs treatment from a specialist, one of our GP’s can send a digital referral straight to your app’s inbox.

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Pathology

If you need a blood cell count or to check for STDs/STIs like Chlamydia or need any other kind of bloodwork you can easily get a pathology request sent to your inbox by any of our fully licensed online GPs. You can then take the request to the clinic of your choice.

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If you require any special kind of diagnostic imaging such as a CAT scan or an MRI you can get a request from one of our online GPs which you can then take to your preferred provider.

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