Skip to content

    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    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

    Prevent Flu: Soap Away Germs

    An icky fact: That elevator button or door knob you just touched? It likely has flu germs on it. If you're avoiding the flu, take note. Then wash those hands. Do it the right way -- and do it often, several times a day! It's true -- germs can live on any surface for two hours or more. If someone in your office or school is infected, those germs can reside on anything they've touched -- desks, phones, coffee pots, microwaves, cafeteria tables, toys, books. When flu prevention experts advise you...

    Read the Prevent Flu: Soap Away Germs 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.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
     
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
     
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    Slideshow
    cold weather
    VIDEO
     
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Article
    Boy holding ear
    Slideshow
     
    woman receiving vaccine shot
    Article
    woman with fever
    Article
     
    Waking up from sleep
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Slideshow