Flu (Influenza) Test

What is Flu (Influenza) Test?

The influenza test, commonly referred to as the flu test, is a type of clinical diagnostic test that is used to detect the presence of the influenza virus in an individual’s nasal swab or nasal fluid. The test detects the presence of antigen-specific antibodies in the individual and can identify both influenza A and B viruses. This allows for the rapid identification of the influenza virus, which can be essential in providing prompt and effective treatment.

Why Get a Flu Test?

The flu test is generally recommended for anyone who is experiencing symptoms of influenza, such as a fever, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and coughing. Identifying the presence of the influenza virus is important for guiding appropriate treatment. Additionally, the flu test can be useful for confirming influenza in individuals with a history of recent exposures or travel, or for monitoring outbreaks of the virus in regional health care settings.

What Are the Types of Flu Test?

There are several types of influenza tests available, including rapid influenza diagnoses (RID), immunofluorescence assays (IFA), and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). RID is the most commonly used test and is relatively quick and easy to perform, providing results in as little as 10 minutes. IFA and RT-PCR tests are more sensitive than RID tests and can provide results in 1–2 days.

Preparation & Procedure

  • A trained healthcare provider will take a sample from your nose or throat using a sterile swab
  • The sample will be placed into a vial with a solution. The vial is then sealed and sent to a laboratory for analysis
  • The laboratory will perform antigen-specific antibody tests to detect the presence of the influenza virus.

Risks and Side Effects

The flu test is a noninvasive procedure and poses no direct risks or side effects. However, the sample collection process may cause some mild discomfort.

When to Get a Flu Test?

A flu test should be performed if you develop symptoms of the influenza virus, including fever, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and coughing. This is especially important if you have recently been exposed to others with the virus. Additionally, the test may be recommended for individuals who work in healthcare settings or other high-risk areas for viral exposure.