Usually the flu is diagnosed based on the signs and symptoms, and the lack of lab evidence for other types of infections. Viral cultures to prove the diagnosis are costly and slow – the child may be well before the results are back. A new rapid test for the flu is poised to change this, offering results in only 10 minutes.
Children whose flu diagnosis was confirmed with this rapid test were less likely to need blood work, and less likely to get a prescription for antibiotics than other kids with similar symptoms, according to a study published in the June 2003 issue of the Archives of Disease in Children. The results also suggested that these children might be less likely to undergo chest x-rays. The study followed about 1,000 children who went to the ER with flu-like symptoms. About half got the rapid flu test, and the other half had a conventional evaluation.
Specific diagnosis can focus the evaluation and treatment so that everyone wins.