Why a negative covid test seems to cure your symptoms

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After more than two years of living with a pandemic, many are familiar with the worries and fears that a sore throat, runny nose or fatigue can trigger: do i have covid-19? That thinking often drives a rush to grab the nearest at-home coronavirus test kit or find a testing location. But sometimes when the test comes back negative, the results can have a seemingly miraculous effect.

“I feel very tired this morning, maybe it’s a sore throat, is it a bit of a headache??” tweet Deputy senior staff writer Shayla Love noted that her boyfriend recently tested positive. “Tested and came back negative and felt 100% ok right away.”

“It’s funny how you start to feel better once you test negative for Covid-19,” another tweet.

For some experts, the experience reflects the connection between mind and body. “We know that social, emotional and behavioral factors influence health,” said Kaz Nelson, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. “This mind-body connection cannot be underestimated. It’s real, and it’s very powerful.”

But before we explore the mind-body connection associated with coronavirus testing, Nielsen and other experts want us to stress that testing is not 100% reliable, especially that the widely available at-home rapid antigen tests can produce symptoms that lead people to falsely believe they are not infectious false negative.

Also, it’s important to remember that the symptoms of COVID-19, whether acute or “long-term,” are not “imaginary symptoms that we can simply imagine,” Nielsen said. “There is a real health problem at hand with real consequences for the nervous system and other organ systems of the body.”

The key question, she says, is: “How do we understand this powerful mind-body connection” in the context of all the other sources of information we have?

They rely on rapid coronavirus tests to gather safely. Some people wish they didn’t.

Clinical psychologist Lekeisha Sumner in an email.

“The public has had to deal with considerable uncertainty, mixed public health messages, stigma and fear associated with infection, changes in our social and economic environment, long-standing fears of contagion, changes in daily habits, and an association with alarming Associated grief illness and mortality — while expected to function at pre-pandemic levels,” Sumner wrote. “We live with very high chronic stress levels and fragmented social networks.”

In particular, concerns about contracting the new coronavirus are often a significant source of stress for many people — the body responds physiologically to certain stressors, said Rosalind Dorlen, a clinical psychologist and member of the Department of Psychiatry at Overlook Medical Center.in Summit, NJ

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“The whole atmosphere of Covid-19 has activated the stress response,” Doron said, as a consequence of being infected. After all, a positive or negative outcome can be the difference between moving on with life or needing to isolate — potentially with more serious consequences, such as long-term infection, from infection.

“Anytime our brains are predicting the consequences of something, then assessing the threat, and then focusing on or focusing on that threat, it actually affects people’s experience. [physical] Symptoms,” Nelson said. “When that threat is eliminated, it actually leads to remission and less sensitivity to the body and symptoms. “

According to Nielsen, certain areas of the brain are responsible for detecting unpleasant stimuli, such as pain, while other areas are involved in emotional responses to those sensations and how much you pay attention to them. This emotional response can increase or decrease a person’s sensitivity to physical sensations, she said. She added that a negative coronavirus test is “a socio-emotional behavioral cue that promotes remission” and may alter someone’s emotional response to their symptoms.

For example, Doron said, if you take a few deep breaths or tell yourself, “Oh, I’m fine,” you may start to feel less stressed and anxious after receiving a negative result.

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Another possible explanation for why you might feel better after testing negative could be related to the nature of your symptoms, said Albert Ko, chair of the Department of Microbial Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. Common mild symptoms, such as a sore throat, a stuffy or runny nose or feeling tired, can have a variety of causes — many of which are “very transient,” he said.

“You wake up in the morning and you probably have a stuffy nose from allergies. You get some post-nasal drips. You have a sore throat,” he said. “Then you get tested and then the symptoms will probably go away because most sore throats and postnasal drips get better during the day.”

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Still, just because you test negative and feel better, doesn’t mean you can be absolutely sure you don’t have the coronavirus, Ko said. “If you have a negative test and you strongly suspect that you have been exposed, you should do another test in a day or two,” he said.

Of those who use the rapid antigen test, “there are a lot of people who get false negatives even if they have Covid-19,” Nielsen said. “If your symptoms are abated and it’s a false-negative test, then of course that’s not in line with our mitigation. and infection control targets.”

She said action should be taken through multiple sources of information beyond testing, including physical symptoms, exposure risks and community transmission rates. “These are all sources of information you need to consider in how you choose your behavior.”

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