Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
Exams and Tests
Doctors can diagnose influenza (flu) using your symptoms alone if many cases of a similar illness have occurred in the community and if the local health department has confirmed a flu outbreak.
Tests to confirm you have the flu and to find out the type of virus may be important if:
- The results may affect treatment decisions. During a confirmed flu outbreak, though, testing may not be needed even if treatment with an antiviral medicine is being considered.
- In addition to flu-like symptoms, you have any unusual symptoms that suggest another condition.
- Health authorities have not identified any other cases of flu in your area.
Testing may involve blood tests (rarely used) or a Reference culture Opens New Window to identify the virus. Some cultures take 24 to 48 hours for results, so they will not help your doctor decide whether to prescribe an antiviral medicine. A rapid flu test is now available that gives results in 30 minutes. Although this test is not 100% accurate, it can be useful when deciding whether to use an antiviral medicine.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference July 9, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology