A flu test can diagnose an influenza, or flu, infection and help you and your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment. Flu can usually be diagnosed based on a patient’s symptoms. However, a flu test will help determine that it’s the influenza virus and not another illness.

Find a CareNow® clinic near you

How does the flu test work?

Your healthcare provider will rub a cotton swab along the back of your throat or up your nose. The swab will be sealed in a packet, then tested by the healthcare provider right there in the clinic. Rapid flu tests are now available that can provide a test result in 15 minutes or less.

Some tests may be used to identify the type and/or the strain of influenza causing infections.

What happens if you’re diagnosed with the flu?

If the flu virus is found early, your healthcare provider can prescribe antiviral medication right away. If you get diagnosed within two days (or 48 hours) after symptoms show up, these antiviral drugs can ease flu symptoms and might even shorten the illness by a day or two.

Two days after the onset of symptoms, however, the antiviral medications won’t work as well. In these cases, a healthcare provider might prescribe rest, fluids and over-the-counter remedies.

A flu test can also help your healthcare provider rule out giving you antibiotics, which won’t work on a viral infection like the flu.

Testing can help healthcare providers reduce the spread of flu. Older adults or patients at high risk for flu should get tested immediately after suffering flu-like symptoms. Flu tests can also help determine whether a flu outbreak is possible, especially in nursing homes and schools.

If you suspect you have the flu, consult a healthcare provider. Locate the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic to set up a visit.

You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.