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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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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:

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

Swine Flu and Pregnancy

Pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized and are at higher risk of death and complications from flu, including swine flu and seasonal flu, than the general population. As scary as that sounds, experts say that most pregnant women who become ill with H1N1 swine flu will not have a serious problem. If you are pregnant, here's what you need to know.

Read the Swine Flu and Pregnancy article > >

  • 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 culture 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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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