illness

How to Take a Saliva (and Urine) Test at Home

When you start seeing a naturopathic doctor, you may discover that they use tests that conventional medicine does not.

One such test is the saliva test.

If you’ve never taken a saliva test before, it can be very, very overwhelming.

I found it incredibly ironic that I was taking a test for adrenal function and was given a saliva test that required organization, focus, and energy –all things you don’t have if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue.

I actually got online to look for instructions on how to take it –better instructions than what came in the box– and such could not be found.

So I decided to make my own.

I’m assuming that your saliva test is an all-day, take-at-home test like mine.  The last two tests I’ve done have also required urine samples, but the first ones did not.

Obviously, tests will vary.

This is the test I’m using for this post. It’s a test for neurotransmitters.

It’s actually a fascinating test. It uses saliva and urine to tell you the levels of your serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc. Before I started seeing the naturopathic doctor, every other doctor just guessed what brain chemical replacements I needed. No more guessing. Now, we can know for sure.  

A hand-crocheted scrap afghan is not required for the success of the saliva test.

Hopefully, others will find this useful and not be as stressed by it as I was.


PLAN AHEAD

Unless your test is significantly different than mine, it will require a day when you’re home all day and also time to prepare the night before. Others might be able to do this on the go, but I think it would be very challenging.

It’s best to do these tests on a weekday when you’re home or on a Sunday because they need to be mailed within 24 hours and not be delayed due to no mail service on the weekends. So,  a Friday would be a bad idea.  

Ideally, you’d do the test Sunday,  Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday and mail it on Thursday morning at the latest so that it can arrive and be processed on Friday without sitting in the mail over the weekend.

If you wait too long to process it, the biological sample will be ruined.

See the instructions for specifics of your test, but not mailing on the weekend was part of the instructions in all of the saliva tests I’ve done from multiple different companies. All of my tests have either been over night or two day shipping. Whatever your shipping  is, make sure it doesn’t arrive on the weekend when the laboratory is closed.


THE NIGHT BEFORE

Remove all the contents from the box.

Thoroughly read all papers that are included and fill out all the information that’s needed –minus the parts you need to fill in tomorrow like the exact times the individual samples were taken. You’ll fill that part in as you go.

Check to see if there are any days that your test must be taken on. If I was still taking progesterone troches to control uterine hemorrhaging,  I would have to take my test at least 48 hours after my last dose. I’m no longer on that medication, so this is not an issue for me.

My test came with four pages of forms that must be filled out and one page of instructions.

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Remember to include your insurance information and a copy of your insurance card if you have it. We are part of a health care ministry that only pays if a single incident is more than $6000, so I’ll be paying out of pocket for this. This test costs $229 without insurance.

Look over what is supposed to come in the box and make sure everything is there. If everything is not there, you’ll need to get a new kit and take the test another time.


Here’s what came in my box:

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• Absorbent sheets

• A urine sample cup

• A disposable syringe (called a pipette) for transferring the urine into the vial

• A ziplock bag with 4 saliva test vials, parafilm sheets, and labels

• A ziplock bag with urine test vials and labels

• A box that the test came in that will be used to ship the specimens to the lab

• A shipping label  (mine is UPS 2nd day air)


Your contents may vary.

This box unfortunately does not contain a list of what should be included so I’ll have to check the contents as I read through the instructions. I like it better when they give you a list –much easier.

I recommend reading the instructions at least twice because they can be very confusing.  Don’t expect to just figure it out the day of. If you don’t want to mess up the test and start over (true story),  you need a plan the night before.  

The best way I’ve found to do this is to make a schedule, including when you’re going to eat, if necessary. Plan ahead with meals in the fridge to reheat if you can because you will need to do the tests and eat on schedule.

This is not how I normally operate, so this takes a lot of effort for me.

The adrenal saliva test that I took last year had very confusing instructions. I figured it out and ended up scheduling everything on my phone.

This is what my schedule looked like last year. Yes, I had panic attacks from the adrenal fatigue trying to take the test for the adrenal fatigue.

The irony is not lost on me.

Take heart.  You can do this!

Maybe other people can do it without scheduling but once the instructions start saying “20 minutes after you eat do this but 10 minutes before that do this,” I need a schedule to keep track of it.

Depending on your instructions, it may not be that complicated.

This is what I’m talking about:

But look for the other details of how you’re supposed to do the test like instructions regarding brushing your teeth, rinsing your mouth, and eating.

This is why I needed a schedule.

If you have something like the next photo do not fill it out when you schedule your day. Fill it out when you’re actually doing the test tomorrow so that the times are as accurate as possible.

I tried not to laugh when I saw this.  Only three??? I will have to pick a few then –I can’t list all 21 diagnoses.

On to the scheduling.  This test included a sample schedule which previous tests did not have. For the sake of making my life easier, I’m just going to follow that schedule.

This is my attempt to make a schedule based on all the info in the paperwork.

I still can’t figure out why there are  two urine vials but only one collection time. I’ll have to reread the instructions. (Edited to add: I figured out that I need to collect two vials at one time.  This is why you need to thoroughly read the instructions —even the backside of the sheets which I missed the first time.)

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to schedule this test around meals, unlike previous tests.

Now I’m going to schedule them in my phone with alerts so I’ll remember when to do what.  

This is what it looks like all done.

Notice how much simpler it is without the meal times scheduled.

I’m off to finish tonight’s blog post and go to sleep. I’ll take pictures as I go along tomorrow.

All set and ready to go for tomorrow.

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THE DAY OF THE TEST

Try not to do it on the day we change from regular time to daylight savings time like I did. I’m exhausted.

Mark the time off on your schedule and add the actual time as you take the tests if it differs from your scheduled time. Try not to deviate too much.

Review instructions.

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Locate ziplock bag with saliva test contents.

Here are the contents of mine:

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When it’s time to take your first saliva test, peel off the backing of one of the parafilm sheets, throw the part with the words away, and chew. My first kit didn’t say to remove the backing. That was confusing.

The parafilm creates extra saliva and makes it easier to spit.

Spit up to the line and tap to make sure there’s no foam (unless your kit instructs differently). Don’t swallow the film.

Don’t forget to fill in the label.

Store in fridge unless otherwise specified.  One test instructed me to freeze it.

URINE TEST

Review instructions for urine test:

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This is the contents of the urine test:

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Addition supplies I recommend are paper towels (to protect the bathroom surface from spillage) and a ziplock bag (because I don’t like the idea of storing urine in my fridge without an extra layer of containment; probably not necessarily since I used both vials at once,  but if you’re doing 2 separate tests, you want to leave the clean vial in the sterile bag and the filled vial in a ziplock bag in the fridge).

Using the pipette, transfer urine to the vials following the instructions and paying particular attention to the fill lines.

My apologies for the next image, but this is reality. It’s not always pretty.

Use a disinfectant wipe on the outside of the vial if necessary. Dry off, and add labels.

Put the vial(s) in the fridge.

 

Don’t forget to list the time you took the test. I’m keeping track of mine in the handwritten schedule and will add them all to the form tonight.

Take a nap because you’re exhausted already.

No more tests for a few hours.

Repeat test according to the schedule you made yesterday, labeling and storing according to instructions. Make sure you keep track of when you took the tests to finish filling in the forms.

It’s a bonus if you gross out your teenagers when they realize you’re storing body fluids in your fridge.

Now I’m off to make a list of every medication and supplement that I’m taking to include with the forms. They didn’t give me enough room on the form.

Here’s my list. I’m actually taking less than normal right now. Yes, less.

Once all your test are complete, fill in your times based on your written schedule (or edited schedule if you altered from the schedule).

Review paperwork to be sure that everything is filled in.

Now find the packaging instructions. Follow these carefully.  

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My instructions say to wrap the vials in the absorbent sheets and put them in the ziplock bags provided.

Fold up all the papers and put them in the box. Seal box with provided shipping label . There was a square printed on my box where the label goes.

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Store box in the fridge until you ship it.

I’ll be taking mine to UPS in the morning.

I hope this gives people ideas of what to do and clarifies some of the very confusing directions that come with at-home test kits.

Blessings!

Sarah Forbes

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