Yes tis the season – flu season that is! This blog focuses on a very narrow aspect of it but please as needed there is a plethora of info online starting with the CDC.
Docs in the not so distant past diagnosed by a process of elimination or educated guessing diagnose you as having the flu. Well get ready rapid almost immediate results are coming to more doctors’ office and ERs!
Now a definite diagnose of influenza can be made. This means allot of good things including you will probably get less other testing the emergency department (ED) unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions (to cover a few possibilities), and a prescription for an antiviral drug.
Rapid tests are based on antigen detection with results in about 15 minutes. At least 10 different tests are presently approved by the FDA. Some can test and differentiate for both Influenza A & B and some use throat swab versus nasal swab. Like any other test false positives can occur details such as not using the swab that comes with the test can alter results.
But how about the other viruses and bacteria that can cause a similar appearing illness?
FDA has approved other quick (hour) lab panels that test for several viruses and bacteria simultaneously from a nasal sample. More expensive than the rapid influenza A & B test it is for seriously ill or at high-risk patients. The FilmArray? Respiratory panel tests for 20 virus and 3 bacteria.
Whenever a test is order I know you ask what could it reveal, will it change care plan? So if you are ‘swabbed’ for a ‘flu’ test find out what specific viruses and bacteria are being tested. You do want to know what you are paying for!