Flu Tests 101

Flu season is in full force. If you have high fevers, intense headaches, screaming muscles, razor blade throat pain and/or a wicked cough, should you go get a flu test? How reliable are these rapid tests anyway?

Let’s cut to the chase: if you have flu symptoms and a POSITIVE rapid flu test (from a swab lovingly probed up inside your nose), YOU HAVE INFLUENZA. These positive tests are extremely accurate- typically 98-99%. This means they are very SPECIFIC tests- if the test says you have flu, there is a 98% chance that you really do have the flu, so … Read more

Flu Vaccine – NOT TOO LATE!

Friends, family, colleagues and everyone else – FLU SEASON was mild to begin with, but now we are really gearing up. Pictured above are two positive flu tests from one morning this week (two of many). The extra good news is that so far I have not seen anyone with the flu who was vaccinated, though certainly that can happen. Remember that seasonal influenza causes thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every year in the United States, and the flu vaccine is our best method to prevent or at least reduce the severity of the flu.

This year, we hit a … Read more

Was My Rapid Flu Test Accurate?

In primary care offices, we do many types of rapid testing to help us diagnose and treat patients – pregnancy tests, urine tests for infection, rapid strep tests, and of course, rapid flu tests. The accuracy of these tests definitely vary by category. Since we are entering FLU season, this post specifically addresses the Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests (RIDTs).

If a rapid flu test is POSITIVE, it is EXTREMELY accurate- 98-99%. This means they are very SPECIFIC tests- if it says you have it, you have a 98% chance that you really do have the flu, so the likelihood of … Read more