A rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT) looks for infection caused by an influenza (flu) virus, subtypes A and B. Different brands of the test may show different results.
Your healthcare provider may use an RIDT to find out if a flu virus is causing your child’s symptoms. Your child may have chills, sweating, fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, or tiredness. Flu symptoms can start quickly and usually last 3 to 7 days. Your child may start feeling better after the first 2 days or so. Having these symptoms does not always mean that your child has the flu.
RIDTs are most accurate when your child gets the test in the first day or two after symptoms start. If your child’s symptoms suggest that he or she might have the flu and the test is positive, your child’s healthcare provider may prescribe antiviral medicine. This medicine may help your child feel better sooner than if he or she does not have treatment.
Your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose flu, during flu season, without giving your child a RIDT or without seeing a positive test result.
Usually your child does not need to do anything special before this test.
Talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you have any questions.
Your child’s healthcare provider will rub a cotton swab against the back of your child’s throat or in your child’s nose. Your child’s healthcare provider may be able to do this test in his or her office, or the test will be sent to a lab.
Usually, a positive flu test result means that your child has the flu. A negative (normal) result may mean that your child does not have the flu. But even if the test is negative, if your child has flu symptoms and you live in an area where many people have the flu, your child’s healthcare provider may still treat your child for flu. Your child’s healthcare provider can explain what the test results mean with your child’s symptoms.
Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history, physical exam, and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your healthcare provider about your child’s result and ask questions, such as: