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The process of diagnosing a staph infection starts with your healthcare provider taking your medical history; if a staph infection is suspected, he or she will perform a physical exam and order certain tests for confirmation. Until recently, it would take 48 to 72 hours to get the results of these tests back. However, newer tests can detect staph DNA in just a few hours.

How Is a Staph Infection Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose a staph infection, a healthcare provider will begin by asking a series of questions (known as a medical history). This will include questions regarding the person's:
  • Current symptoms
  • History of medical problems
  • Current medications, including antibiotics
  • Family history of recent illnesses.
The healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam to look for signs of a staph infection. If the healthcare provider suspects a staph infection or another type of bacterial infection, he or she may recommend certain tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Tests Used to Diagnose a Staph Infection

In order for a staph infection to be diagnosed, the healthcare provider may obtain a sample from the infection site and send it to a laboratory for testing. It takes about 48 to 72 hours for the results to come back. If staph is found, the organism will be further tested to determine which antibiotic will be the most effective treatment.
Newer tests that can detect staph DNA in a matter of hours are becoming more widely available. This will help healthcare providers decide on the proper treatment for a person more quickly.
When diagnosing more serious infections inside the body, healthcare providers may recommend x-rays, a computed tomography (CT) scan, and/or blood tests.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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