Many kinds of respiratory illnesses exhibit the same signs and symptoms as that of influenza infection. Even during flu season, it would be hard for doctors to determine whether you contracted the influenza virus based on symptoms alone.
So to come up with a proper diagnosis, your physician may require you to undergo an influenza diagnostic test if:
Getting tested right away will help prevent or limit the spread of the infection, especially if you’re living with high-risk individuals. Additionally, an influenza diagnostic test will aid in ruling out other contagious illnesses (e.g., COVID-19) so your doctor can provide the appropriate treatment options.
An influenza test is a procedure performed to detect the presence of the influenza virus. There are a lot of influenza a&b tests available, and they may vary in their methods, specimen of choice, test time, and accuracy. Some examples include:
Out of these tests, the most common ones performed in most clinics and urgent care facilities are the RIDT, rapid molecular assay, and antibody testing.
RIDT, or flu rapid test, is the fastest and most common type of flu test that can tell whether or not you contracted the flu virus. This point-of-care testing can detect influenza A and B through the viral antigen (protein components of the virus) present in the patient’s respiratory sample.
A healthcare professional can perform this test by inserting a swab into the nostrils or throat to get a respiratory sample. The collected sample will then be processed using the RIDT kit, which can provide results within 15 minutes.
Most RIDT kits resemble that pregnancy test kits in structure and result interpretation:
Furthermore, most RIDTs have a moderate sensitivity or accuracy of 50%-70% and 75%-80% (depending on the kit used). This means that they may only be used for diagnostic purposes.
A rapid molecular assay is another type of influenza a&b test that determines the presence of the influenza virus by detecting its genetic material or RNA. This type of antigen testing can differentiate between influenza A and B, thus making it more accurate and sensitive than RIDTs.
Rapid molecular assays also use nasopharyngeal swabs as their sample and provide results within 15 to 30 minutes. However, samples are required to be analyzed by a medical technologist using a machine or analyzer. This means that this flu rapid test is not readily available in most primary and urgent care facilities.
An influenza A and B antibody test detects the presence of antibodies in the body using a serum blood sample. This procedure will determine if you have antibodies against the influenza virus, which your body naturally produces when you get infected.
However, this type of influenza test is not routinely used since antibodies take time to develop. Additionally, antibody testing requires complex procedures, thus not providing timely results.
Most diagnostic and confirmatory tests for influenza require a nasopharyngeal swab sample. A healthcare provider will:
Some types of influenza tests may also use throat swabs, nasal wash, and serum blood as specimen samples.
Flu season or not, it’s vital to get tested against the flu if you are experiencing any of its symptoms. At Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches, we provide a convenient and hassle-free way to get yourself tested at one of our locations:
If you want to get a flu shot in Palm Beach County or require other medical services, then you can get an appointment or visit one of our facilities. Contact us to learn more!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.
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