January 24, 2015

At-Home Influenza (Flu) Testing

There are kits that can be purchased inexpensively over-the-counter to test for strep and mono. You can also add influenza (aka "the flu") to the do-it-yourself list, but unfortunately, this test kit is expensive at several hundred dollars on Amazon to perform 10-20 tests or about $20 per test.

Taking about 15 minutes to perform, these flu test kits are designed to detect Influenza A (including H1N1 virus) as well as the Influenza B virus antigens in nasopharyngeal specimens with over 90% accuracy. What exactly does nasopharyngeal mean? It requires advancing the culture swab all the way to the back of the nose... we are talking inches... not centimeters.

This requirement will probably dissuade most DIY patients, but if you can manage to get a good and accurate specimen, the rest of the steps for accurate test results is fairly straightforward and outlined below (depending on the kit purchased, instructions/steps may be slightly different):

Interpreting results is as follows (and contains internal controls which is nice):

Given flu is something that occurs yearly, this test kit may save money in the long run (over several years), especially for a family.

The average cost for the flu kit is around $200 for 10 test strips, or about $20 per test. This amount is less than the cost for most doctor visit copays, so if you find yourself making yearly doctor visits for flu symptoms and are willing to pay a large sum up front, this may be a worthwhile financial investment after several years.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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