This article waslast modified on February 18, 2020.

A nasopharyngeal swab is a respiratory sample that may be collected when you are tested for certain respiratory infections. It is collected by having you tip your head back and then a swab (like a long Q-tip with a small head) is gently inserted through one of your nostrils until resistance is met. It is left in place for several seconds, then rotated several times to collect cells, and withdrawn. This is not painful, but it may tickle, cause your eyes to tear, and provoke a coughing spell.