Starting November there is a surge in influenza cases. This condition affecting the upper respiratory tract tends to cause considerable discomfort. While flu is not a serious condition timely flu diagnosis can allow patients to recover faster and to reduce the severity of the symptoms. The diagnosis of flu can be done based on the symptoms as well as certain tests. Flu can affect individuals belonging to all age groups and particularly affects individuals with weakened immune systems. Through timely diagnosis certain antiviral medicines and other remedies can be prescribed to deal with the pain, cough and other symptoms related with the condition.
Since flu may be caused by varied strains of influenza virus, it is important to ensure that the flu diagnosis is properly made. The symptoms that may be experienced in this condition include fever, sore throat, cough, headache and body ache, runny nose etc. The fever in case of flu can be 102 degrees or even higher. The fatigue associated with flu can also be extremely debilitating. The diagnosis of the condition cannot be done entirely based on the symptoms as the symptoms experienced in influenza tend to be quite similar to those experienced in common cold. The flu may be caused by several infectious agents including parainfluenza virus, mycoplasma pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus, legionella spp, rhinovirus, adenovirus etc. Certain other diagnostic tests can also be performed to identify cases of flu. The testing may include nasal swabs wherein the samples are collected in the initial 4 days. These samples are collected by swabbing the back portion of throat or nasal passage. The rapid influenza test can be performed on these samples and results can be obtained in as less as 15 minutes.
Rapid testing form of flu diagnosis is particularly useful while identifying widespread outbreak of influenza virus. The other diagnostic procedures that may be followed for identification of influenza cases include serology, polymerase chain reaction, viral culture, immunofluorescence assay and rapid antigen testing. Viral culture can be critically important in identifying the particulars of influenza strains that are causing the flu cases.
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