Nurseries and kindergartens have reopened a few days ago and in some areas of the country it is already chaos tampons. With the return to nurseries and kindergartens and with the start of the change of season, even the first colds and respiratory symptoms arrived on time and for many children the request for tampons was triggered. With some parental concern. So let's clarify this test with the help of the doctor Andrea Campana, head of the Covid Center and of the multi-specialist pediatrics department of the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in the city.
In this article
- What is the swab for the diagnosis of Covid
- How to prepare the baby
- Where can it be done
- How quickly do you get the answer
- When it needs to be done
- Can it be risky?
What is the tampon
"The swab is the diagnostic test par excellence for making a diagnosis of coronavirus" said Dr. Bell. It consists in the sampling, with a special flexible stick, of nasopharyngeal material which is then analyzed with various possible methods.
The sampling can take place directly at the nasopharyngeal level, and therefore we speak of tampone rinofaringeo: as specified in a document of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the nasopharynx is the upper portion of the pharynx, located deep behind the nose, at the height of the external auditory canal. Alternatively, a buccal swab and a nasal swab.
The biological material collected can be analyzed with various methods that allow to measure alternatively
- the presence of the viral genetic material (virus RNA). This is the most sensitive and therefore more accurate but slightly slower analysis
- the presence of viral antigens (parts of the protein structure of the virus). Faster but slightly less sensitive, it is particularly suitable for analyzing a large number of patients.
How to prepare the baby
Can it be annoying?
"Undoubtedly yes, because it involves the descent into the nose of something that irritates the vaso-lacrimal canals" says Campana, who has now undergone several tampons for reasons of professional safety. "It is for adults and even more so for children, but it must be said that it is a nuisance that passes quickly - the sample itself takes a couple of seconds and the discomfort can persist for about 30 seconds - and in any case less impactful than what can be, for example, the discomfort caused by a blood sample ".
As an alternative to the nasopharyngeal swab, nasal and buccal swabs can be performed, but they are not much less annoying also because they are performed with rigid and inflexible instruments.
How to prepare the child for the execution of a tampon
Unfortunately, there are no specific procedures to be put in place before or after the execution to relieve the discomfort. "However, two aspects are fundamental", explains Campana:
- the reassuring and calming presence of the parents
- training of the operator who performs the swab, who must be able to find the right moment and act quickly and firmly
As for the possibility of first telling the child what will happen, for Campana it depends a lot from child to child. "It's like withdrawals: some prefer to be clearly informed of all the steps. Others get more scared and become less cooperative." It will be up to the parents, who know their child better than anyone else, to decide how to prepare him, then looking for the alliance of doctors and nurses.Read also: How to prepare babies for the tampon and how to explain it
Where can the tampon be made?
It depends on the paths established by each ASL, however in general the swabs for the coronavirus for children can be performed:
- in pediatric emergency rooms
- in special centers, including drive-in, established by the ASL
- at home if indicated by the ASL itself
How long does it take for the answer
It depends on the type of test used and a number of conditions relating to the facility in which it is performed. "I work in a Covid reference center in a third-level hospital, therefore in a privileged situation that allows us to obtain answers very quickly: about 40 minutes for rapid antigen tests and just over an hour for tests on antigens. RNA "declares Campana.
Other pediatricians with whom we have spoken in recent days have told us of territories in which it can take from one to several days (even 8-10) to get an answer.
When it needs to be done
"The swab is performed in children with symptoms attributable to Covid-19, to establish whether it is precisely this disease, or in asymptomatic children who we imagine have been in contact with positive cases" explains Campana. Which also sheds some light on the question of quarantine.
"The child who swabs for a Covid suspect must remain in isolation at home until the swab is completed. In the meantime, classmates must not remain in isolation themselves. The so-called quarantine - that is, home isolation for 14 days (but there are bills to lower it to 10 or 7 days, as in France) - it only clicks if the symptomatic child's swab is positive. In turn, this child will remain in prolonged isolation until they are observed two consecutive negative swabs. In the great majority of cases this happens within a week, but it can also take longer ".
Can it be risky?
Some parents fear that swabs, especially if numerous, could damage the delicate mucous membrane of children. However, Campana reassures: "There are no risks, but it is clear that if a child has to swab often, he will end up getting nervous precisely because it is not very pleasant ".
As for contraindications, that is to any situations in which it is not possible to perform them, are really limited: "For example if there is an atresia of the nasal passages, for which the buccal swab will be preferred, or in the case of acute laryngitis, because laryngospasm could occur ". On the other hand, no problem if the child has a cough or cold: it is planned to practice the tampon even in the presence of symptoms and also for this reason the operators who perform it are protected by various devices.
Questions and answers
What are salivary tests for the diagnosis of Covid-19? Can they replace tampons?
They are tests performed precisely on the saliva of the suspect for the possible diagnosis of Covid. The idea is precisely to use them to replace the pads, because they would be less annoying to perform and faster (albeit with a slightly lower sensitivity). Some are already available but they must be definitively validated.
What is the difference between a swab and a serological test?
At the moment, the swab is the only test that allows us to provide not only the diagnosis of Covid-19 but also the assessment of the risk of contagiousness: if it is positive, the subject is contagious. Serological tests evaluate exposure to the virus also in the past but do not allow us to comment on the contagiousness at the moment.