General Question

tan253's avatar

Reasons for throat swab to be late?

Asked by tan253 (2820points) February 2nd, 2016

Yes a paranoid question, I got a throat swab almost 48 hours ago and it’s still not at the DR’s yet. Any idea why?
I did have tonsil stones, could it be it’s late as the swab has grown some weird unknown bacteria? I’m paranoid it’s something bad and they are trying to figure out what it is! Im over reacting I know, but I suffer health anxiety – would tonsil stones grow something on a throat swab? I got it initially as I’d had a sore throat for a week yet the Dr couldn’t see anything that would/could explain the sore throat – my throat is no longer sore but I’m still paranoid.


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33 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Throat cultures typically take 48–72 hours. I’m sure nothing weird is growing, don’t worry about that at all.

Sore throat for a week is a little odd. Was it severe? Did you have a fever? Is the sore throat completely gone? Or, just feels better than it was? Did you have any congestion with it? Did they do a blood test?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Relax. If it was important any responsible doctor—and most are—would call you right away. Otherwise, it could take as long as a week, depending on the workload.

JLeslie's avatar

A week to get a result is unacceptable. As far as the doctor knows the patient is sick! This isn’t a routine test for a check up.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I did some browsing around, Tonsil Stones are not considered a terminal disease. ~~ jk

That being said if there is a severe infection/bacteria infection, the Doctor would contact you
No news if GOOD news.

cazzie's avatar

I have socialised medicine where I live. I get most swabs and blood results while I wait. Some special results have to be sent to the hospital lab and depending on the time of my appointment ( before 14.00 is best) I get the results the next day. For you, I guess it depends on where they have to send them to for what they are looking for. Do you know what your doc is running the test for?

msh's avatar

Call and ask. The Dr.‘s office can tell you what the buzz is on the test.
Also, if you throat hurts, ask for something for relief while you wait to hear.
Calm yourself. Get the information before making yourself feel worse.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie A throat culture doesn’t grow enough while you wait.

tan253's avatar

I think it was a standard throat swab to test for strep throat. Yeah a week for a sore throat is really long, it wasn’t overly painful and it was more in my sinuses and it’s back this morning. Dr think it’s hayfever – whatever it is it’s really annoying me!
Will phone again today.

si3tech's avatar

I think there is a “quick strep” test which will allow treatment to begin as it is pretty reliable.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

A week is perfectly acceptable. If the lab sees something important, such as a soft tissue malignancy, the attending is phoned immediately, backed up by a faxed or emailed report. Soon after that, the patient is phoned by the attending. Otherwise, things are faxed or emailed per routine. Everything is not an emergency, dearie.

JLeslie's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Not acceptable for a strep culture. We can agree to disagree.

@tan253 Strep almost never has sinus involvement. I’d say never, but I hate using never.

If you still are congested and maybe have a cough? And, it’s over a week I say you need antibiotics.

tan253's avatar

It’s a weird sore throat as my throat is actually fine, no redness, nothing, swab came back clear – nothing weird grew. But when I swallow I still feel an irritation in my sinuses – it’s like really soft sandpaper is scraping and i keep expecting to see a sore throat but it’s clear… could be allergies?
I have heaps of post nasal drip and sore eyes etc – taken a loratadine but nothing yet.
I’m sure it’s nothing and will heal itself soon, I’m sure most people wouldn’t even notice. Will get it checked if it’s not gone by next week – google throat and sinus cancer – that was dumb.

tan253's avatar

So in throat throbs they can see malignancy?

msh's avatar

If there is no fever, and the mucus isn’t greenish, you are not with an infection.
Have you been in and out of heated to outside cold, or visa versa? Perhaps allergies, or an irritation to something that is easily remedied. Calm yourself and relax. Drink liquids, get some good sleep and see what happens. You will be alright. Quit looking at Internet medical info!
It’s going to be fine. Go read a book or do something off of this technology. Chillax.

tan253's avatar

Yeah no I agree I do need to relax – I always jump to worst thought. Thanks guys again for your help. x

Soubresaut's avatar

If it is allergies and loratadine isn’t enough, you could try zyrtec too (cetirizine). I’ve never taken it, but the rest of my family swears by it, and our allergenist apparently said the two drugs can be taken simultaneously—they each act on different components of the allergic reaction.

tan253's avatar

Yeah Loratadine didn’t work at all, still have this weird sore throat with no other symptoms.
Freaking out but trying not too – shouldn’t have googled.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie they have machines now that can tell you if you have the bad bacteria in the swab. Also they do the blood infection test while you wait too. Modern technology is amazing.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie what machines? I’m interested to know.The quick strep test isn’t as accurate usually as the old fashioned test from what I understand.

What blood infection? Do you mean white blood cells and other fighters? Sore throat a mono blood test can rule out mono right away. Usually, bad site throat with no congestion is mono or step or that more rare F throat something or other I know almost nothing about that bacteria.

The OP is congested, so the chance of strep was near zero anyway even without a machine I can diagnose that.

@tan253 Is your mucous green? Are you sneezing a lot? Are you in a new environment that it might be allergies?

I’m guessing you don’t have the allergy symptoms. If that’s the case I think an antibiotic is in order. You still might fight it off on your own. I personally would give up on fighting it myself by the eight day mark probably. You can wait longer if you want to of course. Since you ruled out strep you don’t have to worry. Strep is the one to worry about, the other possibilities are just annoying.

What are you freaking out about? You’re sick. Am I reading wrong? You’re congested and have a sore throat. Your infected mucous is running down your throat and irritating it. It’s not nothing. You aren’t imagining things, but it isn’t deadly or cancer.

tan253's avatar

@JLeslie I think the worst and think it’s an early symptom of throat cancer. I’ve never had sore throats for a week but when it started it was really sore, so you’re right it was some sort of infection or allergy.
Mucus isn’t green all the time, but sometimes it is yes… particularly mornings, definitely heavily congested in morning, every morning – which makes me wonder if it’s allergies?
But yes as nothing else is obviously wrong I“m worried about cancer – but I always think the worst… hence health anxiety. It feels… raw ish .. the pain is slight – I don’t need anything for it… it just feels kinda raw?!

msh's avatar

Ixnay on the discussionhey erehay!
Someone needs to chill out.
This isn’t helping at all.
No ‘stops’ just elsewhere, please?
There was a graceful thank you earlier.
Let it go…......
Again- please????

tan253's avatar

you’re right… ha ha there was a graceful thank you earlier…. and I should have turned off the computer and stopped googling!!! Look here I go again… no more googling….. and thank you!! ;) Give me two days and I’m sure I’ll feel right as rain and worrying about something else…. x

msh's avatar

You’re gonna be fine. Turn this damn thing off- go take a break and relax.
No more articles and get away from here!!!!
It’s going to be fine.

tan253's avatar

I should add I“m ALWAYS congested in the morning! Always…. I think I’m allergic
to dust!! ok… I’ll stop – the reassurance is gooooood.

msh's avatar


JLeslie's avatar

Don’t worry about cancer. Go back to the doctor, or call, if the throat doesn’t feel better in a few days. If the mucous is green, you’re saying it sometimes is, it’s a bacterial infection most likely. It sounds bacterial to me. Not that it really matters how it sounds to me. I’m not a doctor, and I can’t even see you. I have been sick in my life time with strep, colds, and sinus infections though.

tan253's avatar

Thank you xxxx im going!!!!!! ha ha x thanks @JLeslie x

cazzie's avatar if the rapid test is negative they take another swab and say if you don’t hear from us you do not have strep. We call you in a few days if it is positive. No news is good news.

They don’t swab for cancer. That would be a biopsy the doctor would have said as much to you. Biopsy results can take a while due to the specialised diagnostics required. But if the doc didn’t take a biopsy it isn’t for cancer.

JLeslie's avatar

That’s what I said. The regular culture takes time. The OP obviously had a regular culture done.

As far as whether to call if it’s negative or positive, each doctor decides how they want to do it. My last glucose was 170 and the doctor never saw the result. When I was sitting in her office weeks after the test she was not happy she had not been shown the test result and her staff didn’t catch the high number. She usually has a nurse call me when a result is off, so I thought it was odd she hadn’t called.

I personally think the call only when positive is a horrible system.

A very close girlfriend of mine just had a strep culture done by coincidence. I called her last week and she texted back she couldn’t talk. Her throat was like cut glass. 101 degree temp for just two days and then it subsided. She got the culture done when she was already sick 4 days. She could barely swallow! When I had strep as a teen I was spitting out my saliva it was so bad. I became severely dehydrated. I texted with her two days after the culture was taken they still hadn’t called her. That’s typical, 2–3 days for the culture. The thing is, of course it’s strep! Now it’s day 6 of severe sore throat. Her symptoms were pretty text book. He had done a blood test so I assume he ruled out mono. She called desperate and the idiot doctor prescribed her Zithromax. WTF?! A day later he switched it to amoxicillin for the positive strep result. Augmentin would have treated anything he thought he might be treating with Zithromax and treats the strep.

She probably could have held out for the test result if he had just prescribed her Xylocaine for her throat pain.

cazzie's avatar

Your friend’s case is exactly why they should have those rapid result machines. Mono and strep needs help immediately. If the doctor STILL suspects mono or strep after a negative rapid result, then they would still send it off. The blood tests are rapid, too. They pretty much only check for raised white blood cell levels so they are checking for systemic infections. My son’s latest test came back negative in blood but positive for a throat infection. The infection hadn’t become systemic. We knew it wasn’t in his blood or lungs. He had a day of antibiotics and felt well enough to go back to school. The whole point of these rapid tests is to ensure that antibiotics aren’t given for people with just viruses.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll add I don’t know if this doctor did the rapid strep test. Maybe she was negative, or maybe he doesn’t have them handy.

JLeslie's avatar

Mono blood test rules out the mono. Like you said, that result is fast. Strep is probably over 90% chance what’s ailing someone with severe sore throat, visibly horrible throat when looked at by the doctor, and lasted over 3 days. It’s almost a no brainer. I would do the culture, but treat immediately. People can’t eat or drink with that sort of severity. On the off chance it was an STD or the F throat thing, the results will still be known.

Virus sore throat from colds usually doesn’t last more than 2 days, and people don’t have trouble eating with that sort of soreness usually.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Call your doctor. Nothing else. Call your doctor.

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