Rapid Strep Throat Testing
Strep throat is a common condition that occurs most frequently in children. Rapid tests for strep throat can provide results as to whether or not a patient’s symptoms are being caused by the streptococcal virus within minutes. A traditional test is often performed in addition to the rapid test in order to confirm these results. A rapid test allows for treatment to begin right away instead of waiting several days for results.
Your doctor will swab the back of your throat in the area of the tonsils to obtain a sample of bacteria to be tested. For a rapid strep test, the sample can be analyzed in your doctor’s office. It does not need to go to a laboratory for evidence of the streptococcal bacteria.
A rapid strep test will most likely be performed if a patient is exhibiting typical symptoms of the condition, including a sore, scratchy throat; red and swollen tonsils; red spots at the back of the mouth; tender glands; headache and fever. Strep throat is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15, but can affect people of all ages. If left untreated, strep throat can lead to kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever. It is important to see a doctor if you or your child has a sore throat that lasts longer than 48 hours or a fever higher than 101 degrees F.
Positive results on the rapid strep test indicate a streptococcal infection. Strep throat can be treated with antibiotics to clear up the infection as well as pain relievers to reduce symptoms and make the patient more comfortable. If the test is negative, no streptococcal bacteria were found. However, your doctor still may choose to send a sample of a throat swabbing out to a laboratory for further testing to confirm this result.
Rapid Flu Testing
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a viral infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs. It strikes millions of people each year as it is easily passed from person to person. Flu symptoms often mimic those of other upper respiratory infections. In the past, doctors always had to depend on their ability to distinguish the flu from other illnesses based on a patient’s symptoms alone.
But in recent years, flu testing has become available. A flu test can help determine the type and severity of the flu virus, and may involve a throat swab, nasal swab or a nasal wash. When rapid testing is used, results are available within 15 minutes and patients can begin appropriate treatment to help relieve their symptoms. Rapid flu tests are conducted at the doctor’s office for quick resolution, as opposed to traditional flu tests, which requires that samples be sent to a laboratory to determine the presence of the flu virus.
Flu tests work to identify both the influenza A and influenza B viruses. Early diagnosis of the flu is essential because treatment can greatly shorten the duration of the illness. That is beneficial to both the patient and to others, as it can help prevent the spread of this very contagious infection during its early stages. Therefore, it is important to visit a doctor in order to confirm the diagnosis of the flu through reliable testing.
Common symptoms of include high fever, chills, fatigue, headache and aches and pains. High risk populations in particular, including very young children, elderly adults and chronically ill patients, should see a doctor immediately if displaying multiple symptoms. The flu can cause additional complications, which are often exacerbated in these populations, such as bacterial pneumonia, bronchitis or ear infection.
If your rapid flu testing results are positive, indicating the presence of the flu, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to lessen the severity and length of your illness. Antiviral medications are most effective when started within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. You will most likely also receive a recommendation to stay home for several days of bed rest before returning to work or school.
Flu shots are available each year to help prevent infection. They are recommended for everyone, especially those at high risk. Your doctor can help you decide if a flu shot is a good choice for you.
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