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How To Collect A Nasopharyngeal Swab
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  • Before doing the swab, block one nares with a finger and breathe. Block the other nares with a finger, and breathe. Swab the nares that has better air flow.

  • Optional: Spray some Afrin into your nose to decongest it prior to the swab

  • The nasopharyngeal (NP) swab should be placed at the entrance of the nasal cavity, on the nasal floor. Slide the swab along the floor of the nasal cavity until it encounters the nasopharynx.

  • The nasopharynx is approximately 3.5-4 inches (9-10 cm) from the opening of the nares. You should expect the swab to enter this distance (marked on the package) before encountering an obstruction – the back of the nasopharynx.

  • Twirl the swab a few times before removing it.

  • Snap the shaft end of the swab off so it fits into the viral media tube. Twist the cap closed tightly and ensure the viral medium does not spill.​


  • The angle of swab entry is the most important.  If you are facing straight ahead, the swab should be parallel to the floor.  Do not angle it upward or you will get stuck on the middle turbinate. If the swab stops before it has entered 3 inches, you did not reach the nasopharynx.

  • If you have a history of nasal trauma, chronic nasal congestion, or a complex septal deviation, it may be challenging for the swab to get to the back of the nose.

  • If you prefer a telehealth appointment to have someone walk you through it, you can call our ENT – Dr. Nancy King (cell phone 917-523-5811) to set it up.  

  • Stay healthy and safe!

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