How am I Diagnosed with the Flu?

Dr. Hodges discusses cold and flu concerns. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript  


You may have fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills and fatigue and other symptoms that may suggest flu but the flu cannot always be diagnosed by symptoms alone.

Several tests can check you for the flu virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including:

  • Rapid influenza diagnostic tests – These are the most common tests and provide results in 30 minutes or less. While they’re quick, they’re not the most accurate.
  • Laboratory tests – These tests take longer than the rapid tests but are more sensitive to the flu virus so they’re more accurate. A swab is taken inside your nose or the back of your throat and sent to a lab for testing.

Not everyone who visits the doctor with flu symptoms will be tested for the flu. Your doctor may diagnose you with the flu based on your symptoms, according to the CDC.

If there is a flu outbreak or if you are in a high risk group (pregnant or with a weakened immune system) your doctor might test you to get a more accurate diagnosis to determine your care.

Talk to your doctor for more information about flu testing and if it’s right for you.

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