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Do covid 19 tests have side effects?

Millions of people have gone through the covid 19 nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab test and you may hear different experiences told by each one of them. Some complained of teary eyes, pain and head while apart from these reports, others describe covid 19 tests as like “they were cleaned from behind their eyeballs”, “the swab stick went to the back of my skull and came back” and many more.

Are you heading for your first ever nasopharyngeal swab test? Fret not! We got you fully covered in this article. Keep reading to know more on the side effects of covid 19 swab test and click here to get the Covid 19 vaccine shot.

  1. It can be slightly painful

Covid 19 nasopharyngeal swab test can be slightly uncomfortable but it is said not to be as it was described by others. You may have some discomfort feeling in your inner nose commonly associated with tearing and eye itchiness. This is because the lacrimal duct is directly connected to the nasal canal. This area can be stimulated during the nasopharyngeal swab test and cause you to have tearing. Only some minority cases may leave you with pain after the test and this is extremely rare in clinical practice.

Meanwhile, an oropharyngeal swab test is a procedure done to get some samples from the back of the throat. Similarly, you may feel slightly discomfort and gag reflex which is completely unharmful. 

  1. Nose bleeding

Nose bleeding or commonly called epistaxis, although rare, can be caused by nasopharyngeal covid 19 swab test. The nose is a complex structure with lots of tiny delicate and intricate structures in it to complete its function. Majority of the blood vessels in the nose are located behind a very thin delicate outer membrane called the mucosa. 

Nose bleeds can happen when the nasopharyngeal stick accidentally irritates and breaks the surface (mucosa) causing bleeding. This can be immediately treated with simple maneuver and applying cold packs. Non stop bleeding can be treated with anterior or posterior nasal packs after localizing the point of bleeding. 

  1. Vasovagal attack

This condition in your body results from extreme anxiety or fear towards something that you will never want to attempt. It is fairly common among teens. Vasovagal attack can leave you symptoms like profuse sweating, exaggerated pain and even fainting. This can be easily prevented by calming down and having your concern told clearly to the doctor or nurse conducting the nasopharyngeal swab test so extra caution will be taken.

  1. The cerebrospinal fluid leak

This is an extremely rare condition after having a nasopharyngeal swab test, The cerebrospinal fluid or usually called as CSF is a type of liquid in between your meninges which acts a cushion for your brain while helping in transporting useful and harmful substances in and out of the brain. Anatomically the nasal roof is connected to the brain meninges from the top. The boundary between these two is separated by a thin layer of bone called the cribriform plate which is prone to both sharp and blunt injuries.

In such cases, immediate medical attention should be brought and treated accordingly as loss of cerebrospinal fluid can lead to changes in pressure in your brain and progress to other complications, even though this is fairly rare after a swab test.

Now that you have known the common and rare side effects of covid 19 nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab test, plan your test wisely to avoid wastage and mishaps. Always wear an appropriate mask before and after the procedure while maintaining 1 metre social distance when you are at the swab test location which you can book via appointment klinik kesihatan.


Beth Hein