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Best At Home Flu Test
Updated on November 23, 2022
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Best At Home Flu Test
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With the flu season right around the corner, experiencing flu-like symptoms can make you worry if you’ve caught wind of the virus.

The flu is a contagious disease with signs similar to common colds and seasonal allergies.1,2 Flu testing makes it possible to determine if the flu virus — or influenza — causes your symptoms.

At-home flu test kits are an easy and accessible way for us to test for influenza. Some can even detect other viruses that affect your respiratory system.

Best At Home Flu Test 3

Quick Facts on At-Home Flu Testing

  • The flu is caused by a virus called influenza
  • It affects your respiratory system
  • There are 2 types of flu virus – influenza A and B
  • At-home flu tests look for the presence of the influenza virus
  • A nasal swab or a saliva sample is needed to do these tests

Why Take A Flu Test At Home?

Flu testing helps your doctor test for the influenza virus. They can confirm a flu diagnosis using at-home flu tests. In addition, testing at home lowers the risk of spreading the virus to others. 

Early detection of the flu virus can help prevent it from spreading to people you frequently interact with — like household members and co-workers.

Some at-home flu kits also test for SARS-CoV-2 virus — the leading cause of COVID-19. You’ll need to do a nasal swab or collect a saliva sample.

Tests that check for COVID and flu help your doctor find out which virus is causing your illness. Both of them have the same respiratory symptoms, which can potentially lead to more health problems.

When Should You Get A Flu Test?

Doctors recommend flu testing if you have flu-like symptoms. It can help them determine the cause of your symptoms.

You can also take an at-home flu test any time you have symptoms. The doctor might order more tests if you have positive results.

They may also ask for a test if you’re at higher risk of developing complications from the flu. Factors that increase your risk for complications include:

  • Age
  • Present health conditions
  • Existing chronic disorders
  • Pregnancy

Common Flu Symptoms

The onset of the flu feels like a common cold with frequent sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat. But unlike colds that slowly develop, flu symptoms usually show up suddenly.3

The most common signs of flu are:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle or body pains
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

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Best At Home Flu Tests of 2022

Flu testing can prevent the transmission of influenza and COVID-19. You may find several options to test yourself in the safety and comforts of your home.

How We Picked The Best Flu Tests At Home

Choosing a suitable at-home flu testing kit can be challenging. Many brands are widely available, but we narrowed our list to the 3 best at-home flu tests. 

We picked our top choices based on these criteria:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval
  • Quick turn-around of results 
  • Value for money
  • Insurance acceptance
  • Access to treatment after taking the test

We went through several research studies and reviews to come up with the best choices.

LetsGetChecked Coronavirus Test (COVID-19)

  • Cost: $109
  • Accepts FSA & HSA cards 
  • Can provide receipts for insurance reimbursement

LetsGetChecked is authorized by the FDA to collect samples for flu testing. Their designated lab for analysis is qualified to conduct high complexity tests.4

You can buy the LetsGetChecked Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test online. Using the home collection kit, you can get a swab sample inside your nose.

Their tests have a high analytic sensitivity level, increasing their accuracy. Their kit comes with a return shipping label for sending samples back to their lab. 

You can get the results in 2 to 3 days after they receive your sample. Medical professionals can help you understand the findings. 

LetsGetChecked provides extensive virtual support to help you with the process.

Best At Home Flu Test 4

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iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test 

  • Cost: Under $100

You can buy the iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test directly from their website. It needs a nasal swab for testing. Each box has 2 testing devices that you can use a few days apart.

It can show your results in 15 minutes, which can be helpful when traveling. But like other antigen rapid tests, it can give false-negative results. 

You may retake the test if you get a negative result despite having symptoms.

Labcorp COVID-19 + Flu PCR Test

  • Cost: $169
  • Accepts insurance

The Labcorp COVID-19 + Flu PCR Test detects both influenza virus strains and COVID-19. You can purchase it online or from retail stores.

This self-collection test kit needs your nasal swab sample. After mailing back your specimen, you can get the results in 1 to 2 days.

Flu and COVID-19 have the same symptoms. This test can check for the presence of different viruses.

Benefits & Drawbacks of At Home Flu Tests

In deciding which at-home flu test suits your needs, you’ll have to weigh its advantages and disadvantages.

At Home Flu Testing Pros

  • It offers a convenient and remote way of testing for the flu. You don’t need to visit a healthcare facility to get tested.
  • If you think you’re contagious, at-home testing can confirm flu infections and help you avoid contact with other people. It lowers your risk of spreading the virus. 
  • At-home test kits can test for both influenza and COVID-19 viruses. You only need to submit one sample for these tests.
  • Most influenza tests have an all-inclusive and upfront cost. You won’t need to pay for hidden or additional charges.

At Home Flu Testing Cons

  • You can get inaccurate results if there is an error in collecting your sample.
  • Your health insurance may not cover the cost of an at-home flu test.
  • How soon you can send back your sample affects the processing time of the results.

How To Interpret Your At Home Flu Test Results

A self-collection kit can show if your sample is positive or negative. Inconclusive results may also occur in some cases.

If you purchased a combined testing kit that checks for influenza and other viruses, such as COVID-19, it should provide separate reports for each type.

  • A positive result indicates the presence of the influenza virus in your sample. However, it may not be conclusive of your symptoms. 
  • A negative result means that there are no influenza viruses in your sample. 

If you get a positive test result, you must contact your doctor for the next steps. They can help you manage your flu infection and lessen your symptoms.

You should still talk to a doctor if you get a negative result. They can assess if you need more tests, especially if your first test was a rapid antigen test.

Rapid antigen tests are more likely to produce false negatives.

Are At Home Flu Tests Accurate?

Using at-home influenza tests to detect influenza infection is common. However, the accuracy of their results depends on various factors, such as:

  • The kind of test – For example, a rapid antigen test has a higher chance of giving false-negative results than molecular tests. It can affect the accuracy of the test.
  • Timing of the test – If you test 3 to 4 days after your initial symptoms, it’ll more likely detect the virus. It’s best to get tested when you have symptoms.
  • Collecting and handling samples – Your results depend on the quality of your sample, especially for self-collection tests. Mishandling them can affect the accuracy of results. 
  • Recent flu vaccination – If you received a flu shot before testing, there’s a chance that you’ll get a false positive result.

What To Do After Taking A Flu Test At Home

After taking an at-home flu test, you must talk to your doctor about treatment options. 

Since the flu is a viral infection, you may be given antiviral drugs to lessen your symptoms. This can also speed up your recovery and prevent complications like pneumonia.

Besides taking care of yourself, you must be careful around other people. 

If you feel sick, these tips will prevent you from spreading the infection:

  1. Limit your contact with others to avoid infecting them.
  2. Wear a medical mask at all times.
  3. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  4. Throw away used tissues in the trash.
  5. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  6. Disinfect your surroundings, especially hard surfaces.
  7. Stay at home until you feel better.

Consider getting an annual flu vaccine and a COVID vaccine. It can protect you and your loved ones from the flu and its health complications.

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Resources

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  1. COVID-19, cold, allergies and the flu: What are the differences?” Mayo Clinic.
  2. Influenza (Flu).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Influenza (flu).” Mayo Clinic.
  4. FACT SHEET FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS: LetsGetChecked Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test.” Food and Drug Administration.
Cristine Santander
Cristine Santander
Content Contributor
Cristine Santander is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. She has a B.S. in Psychology and enjoys writing about health and wellness.
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