When You Need to Know: 5 Health Tests You Can Do at Home
The pandemic changed how patients receive their healthcare. Virtual primary care visits have become mainstream. Ordering prescriptions online is a breeze. Online therapy is as easy as opening Zoom. And health tests, once done only in a lab, are now readily available for at-home use.
While conducting an at-home health test may be a little intimidating, more people are turning to them for convenience. Many of these tests are as simple as collecting saliva or a drop of blood. They are then returned to a lab, oftentimes via a prepaid sealed envelope. Results are provided digitally through a secure platform.
Although pregnancy tests used to be the only at-home test available, there are now numerous options out there. Keep reading to discover five tests you can order today and complete in the comfort of your own home.
1. Sexual Health Tests
If you are sexually active, it’s essential to prioritize your sexual health. Getting tested early for various infections or diseases may help avoid long-term complications. These tests can be done whether or not you have symptoms. This ensures you and your partner are being safe and not potentially spreading any sexually transmitted infections.
You may feel a little embarrassed about it, but the truth is that sexually transmitted infections are extremely common. And frankly, taking care of your sexual health is nothing to be embarrassed about. However, if you’re still a little uneasy, you’ll be happy to know STI testing can now be done at home.
Test kits are shipped to your door for free in discreet packaging. These tests can detect multiple infections including HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, and trichomoniasis. Results are typically given within a week, giving you peace of mind quickly and efficiently. That’s yet another reason not to delay getting tested regularly!
2. Food Allergy and Sensitivity Tests
Unusual symptoms such as digestive distress, hives, migraines, swelling, or stomach pains may point to a food allergy or sensitivity. However, knowing what exactly in your diet is causing you pain is often tricky to pinpoint. While you could try an elimination diet, it’s restrictive and can lead to the unnecessary elimination of nutritious food groups.
It’s important to know the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity. A food allergy is caused by the immune system thinking a certain food is a foreign invader. Food sensitivity is marked by a reaction to certain foods. There are many food allergy and sensitivity tests on the market available for you to use at home. However, there isn’t solid evidence for these tests, so talk to a nutritionist or your healthcare provider about your results.
3. Colorectal Cancer Test
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon cancer screenings should be conducted for persons aged 45 to 75. Traditionally, this requires an intense procedure called a colonoscopy. This process involves emptying the colon by eating a low-fiber diet the week before. It’s then followed by a bowel-clearing drink the night before. While necessary, it’s not a fun procedure to prepare for!
Fortunately, there are now less invasive at-home tests to screen for colon cancer. These are fecal immunochemical tests, so a stool sample is required. The lab will check if any blood is present to determine if additional testing is necessary. That said, if colon cancer runs in your family, then you may want to stick with the colonoscopy. Talk with your doctor to determine whether an at-home test is suitable for you.
4. Women’s Fertility Test
Women who want to start a family in the future likely know about fertility. Whether you’re just curious about your hormonal cycle and balance or unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, these tests can help. There are a variety of tests available that check for ovarian reserve, estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH), and thyroid hormones.
Before ordering an at-home test, talk to your OB-GYN. They may recommend a specific fertility test for you to use. You can also discuss your test results with them and options for moving forward. As always, they might recommend additional testing depending on your results.
5. COVID-19 Test
We’d be remiss to skip one of the most popular at-home tests in today’s world, the COVID-19 test. As we’ve all learned, COVID-19 has been a constantly changing, evolving illness. The first at-home tests were made available just months after the pandemic began in November 2020. These rapid tests alleviated some of the strain urgent care centers and hospitals faced during spikes of the pandemic.
At-home COVID-19 tests detect current infection, so the results are available within a few minutes. These tests do not detect antibodies suggesting a previous positive COVID-19 diagnosis. While not as reliable as laboratory tests, they can provide valuable information for you and your family. Make sure to follow the instructions to get the most accurate results.
At-home tests are an exciting development in healthcare and allow individuals to take control of their own health matters. Above all, they are convenient and alleviate some of the pressure or embarrassment of going to a hospital for testing. No matter what type of at-home test you’re considering, it’s a good idea to talk with your primary care doctor. They are the professionals, after all, and can assist in processing your health results for your unique, individualized needs.