Nasopharyngeal Culture

A nasopharyngeal culture is a fast, painless test that investigates upper respiratory tract infections. They are infections which cause symptoms such as coughing or runny nose. The test may be done in your physician’s office.

A culture is a way to recognize infectious organisms by enabling them to develop in the lab. This test recognises the microbes responsible for the disease that live in the secretions at the bottom of the nose and in the upper throat.

To carry out the test, your secretions are collected with a swab. They can be aspirated as well. All bacteria, fungi or viruses found in the sample have a chance of developing or multiplying. They are easier to detect.

The test results will generally be available within 48 hours. They may assist your doctor in treating your symptoms effectively.

This test is also called these names:

  • nasal aspiration
  • nasal swab
  • nose swab

Purpose of a Nasopharyngeal Culture?

Bacteria, fungi and viruses can all lead to illnesses of the upper airways. Physicians use this test to determine what kind of organism leads to symptoms of the upper respiratory tract such as:

  • chest congestion
  • chronic cough
  • runny nose

It is important to know the cause of these symptoms before starting therapy. Some therapies are effective only for certain types of infection. Infections that can be identified from these culture are as follows:

  • influenza
  • respiratory syncytial virus
  • Bordetella pertussis infection(whooping cough)
  • Staphylococcus aureus infections of the nose and throat

The results of a culture can also alert your physician to unusual or life-threatening complications. For example, they may be used to identify antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

How can I get a nasopharyngeal culture?

Your doctor may perform this test at his or her clinic. No preparing is necessary. If your physician agrees, you may return to your regular activities afterwards.

Upon arrival, your physician will ask you to sit or lie down comfortably. You will be asked to cough and secrete. Next, you will need to tilt your head backwards at an angle of approximately 70 degrees. Your physician may recommend placing your head against a wall or pillow.

The physician will carefully insert a small swab with a soft tip in your nostril. They will guide him to the back of the nose and turn him repeatedly to collect secretions. It can be repeated on the other nostril. You can just gag. You can also feel stress or discomfort.

If an aspiration device is used, the physician will insert a small tube into your nostril. Following this, normal suction shall be applied to the tube. Normally, people think suction is more comfortable than a Q-tip swab.

Discomfort and irritation may be experienced in the nose or small bleeding may occur in the nose following this test. A low-cost humidifier can provide relief from these symptoms.

What do the results tell us?

Your physician should receive the results within 1-2 days.

Normal Results

A normal or negative test shows that there is no body responsible for the illness.

Positive Results

A positive result indicates that the body responsible for the symptoms has been identified. Knowing what leads to your symptoms may help your doctor make the choice of treatment.

Treating Upper Respiratory Infections

Treating an upper respiratory tract disease depends on the type of body that causes it.

Bacterial Infections

Bacteria-related infections are usually treated with antibiotics.

If you become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, you risk hospitalization. You would be put into a separate bedroom or bedroom with other patients with the same infection. Then, some very powerful antibiotics would be used until your infection is controlled. As an example, MRSA is often treated with vancomycin intravenously (IV).

If you have MRSA, your family must take care to keep it from spreading. They should be washing each other’s hands over and over. Gloves must be used when touching unclean clothing or fabric.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infection can be treated with anti-fungal medications such as amphotericin B intravenously. Oral anti-fungal drugs include fluconazole and ketoconazole.

In a few rare cases, a fungal infection will seriously harm a portion of your lung. Your doctor may need to remove the area from surgery.

Viral Infections

Virus infections do not react to treatment with antibiotics or antifungal drugs. They are often a week or two in duration and disappear on their own. In general, physicians prescribe comfort measures such as:

  • cough syrups for constant cough.
  • decongestants for a stuffy nose
  • medicines to reduce high temperature.

Avoid using antibiotics for viral infections. Antibiotics will not treat a viral infection, and taking them may make future bacterial infections more difficult to treat.

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