How It Is Done
You will be asked to tilt your head
back and open your mouth as wide as possible. Your doctor will
press your tongue down with a flat stick (tongue depressor) and then examine
your mouth and throat. A clean swab will be rubbed over the back of your
throat, around your tonsils, and over any red areas or sores to collect a
The sample may also be collected using a throat washout.
For this test, you will gargle a small amount of salt water and then spit the
fluid into a clean cup. This method gives a larger sample than a throat swab
and may make the culture more reliable.
If your child needs a
throat culture, you may hold your child on your lap. This can prevent your
child from moving around too much.
How It Feels
You may feel like gagging when the swab
touches the back of your throat. If your throat is sore, the swabbing may be
Generally there is no chance of problems with
collecting a sample for a throat culture. Your doctor can talk to
you about any specific risks of the test.
A throat culture is a test to find a
fungal infection in the throat. Throat culture test
results for bacterial infections are ready in 1 to 2 days, depending on which
bacteria are being tested for. Test results for a fungus may take about 7
Rapid strep test results are ready in 10 to 15 minutes. This
test is only for bacterial infections caused by strep bacteria.
Rapid strep test
|Normal (negative results): |
No strep bacteria are present. A throat culture may be
|Abnormal (positive results):|
Strep bacteria are present. This means you have
strep throat. Antibiotics can be started
| Normal (negative)|
No infection (bacteria or fungi) grows in
A negative throat culture may mean that the
cause of your infection is a
virus, rather than bacteria or fungus.
Some viruses that cause throat infections include:
| Abnormal (positive)|
Bacteria grows in the culture. Some
bacterial throat infections include:
Fungus grows in the culture. The most
common fungal throat infection is
thrush, caused by the fungus Candida albicans.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
antibiotics recently. This may prevent the growth of
an infection in the culture.
- Contamination of the throat culture
sample by other types of bacteria from the mouth.
- Using antiseptic
mouthwashes before the culture is taken.