If you have a sore throat, you may need to have a throat swab taken to see if you have a bacterial infection. The doctor or nurse holds your tongue down with a depressor and uses a plastic stick with a sterile cotton end (swab) to collect a fluid sample from your throat. The swab is then sent to a laboratory. The procedure can be carried out quickly in the doctor’s surgery and is not painful. However, you may gag briefly when the swab touches your throat.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.