4 Things to Know About Flu Testing This Year

With COVID tests being a regular part of our day-to-day lives, this flu season has us wondering about flu testing and if we need it. As the fall and winter months approach, COVID and flu transmission rates are expected to be high. Before COVID testing came to be, many people with the standard flu never got tested unless their symptoms were severe enough to send them to urgent care lexington. But just like with COVID, flu testing can help decrease transmission rates and prevent the health care system from becoming overburdened. Not to mention that early flu detection can help improve treatment outcomes for more severe cases. This is especially true regarding young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Let’s examine everything you need about testing during the 2022 flu season.

1. COVID or the Flu?

Flu testing can help determine which type of illness you may have contracted. If you have started showing symptoms but have tested negative for COVID using a home test, you may be left feeling confused. Home tests are known to turn up false negatives from time to time, so many of us that have the home test are left with a false sense of confidence which leads us to believe that we have just contracted the common cold. Flu testing can further confirm whether you have contracted COVID or the flu. This can be especially helpful if you have only been vaccinated against one type of illness so you can decide the best course of action for your care and isolation.

2. What Type of Tests are Available? 

You may recognize the term rapid antigen test or RATs from COVID testing. These are the same type of tests used for flu testing. They can quickly determine if a person has Influenza A or B, the most common strains of the flu virus. The tests can detect the presence of specific antigens of the flu. A positive result will appear as a colored band on the test, the same as with COVID RATs.

3. Who Can Get Them?

Flu tests are not as widely available as COVID tests are. They are also often more expensive due to their scarcity. We expect to see the availability of flu testing rise as the demand increases. With people so used to having readily available COVID tests, we expect to see the demand increase as the flu season ramps up.

4. Will Testing Make a Difference? 

Influenza and COVID share similar symptoms. However, the drugs used to manage each of these illnesses are different. To properly treat each of these ailments, precise identification of the source is required. In a hospital setting, positive flu detection during the crucial period of initial onset can help facilitate a quicker and more efficient treatment strategy. As previously mentioned, this is especially important for the young, elderly, and immunocompromised.

If a patient does happen to test positive for the flu, they can start taking Tamiflu, an antiviral medication recommended for flu cases. Tamiflu is known to decrease the risk of hospitalization. The catch here is that it must be taken within two days of infection for it to be effective. This is why early testing and identification is key for treating the flu.

If a patient is not tested for the flu but is started on flu treatments like Tamiflu, they may be treated unnecessarily. Even though the flu and COVID share symptoms, Tamiflu will do nothing for patients with COVID. They are much better off being treated with something like Paxlovid or another antiviral medication. This is where flu testing can make a big difference in the early treatment of symptoms.

Flu testing could also help manage outbreaks in high-risk communities such as elder care, nursing homes, schools and daycares. Quick and accurate detection of the flu is vital to help assist with measures to reduce the chances of transmission. We have seen this work with COVID, so it stands to reason that flu testing will be a valuable tool in these communities.

Testing for the Flu

Ensuring that our healthcare system doesn’t overwhelm is of the utmost importance. Flu testing will not only help to treat people without the risk of hospitalization, but it will also help to prevent people from receiving the wrong type of medications. Therefore, we expect flu testing to become a regular part of our healthcare system as we head into the high-transmission months of fall and winter. 

This post is provided by a third party who may receive compensation from the products or services they mention.


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