When someone has symptoms of a bacterial infection, the doctor may have you get a bacterial culture test.
Bacteria are a large group of single-cell organisms that can live in different parts of the body. Some are harmless and even beneficial, while others cause infections and diseases. It is therefore important to get tested to rule out infection.
As the medical journal ScienceDirect explains, a bacterial culture is made by taking a blood, urine or skin sample, or a sample from another part of the body. It is then taken to the lab and placed in a special environment that causes microorganisms to reproduce. Results are generally ready in a few days. Some types of bacteria reproduce slowly, however, and can take several days or more.
The most common types of bacterial cultures are:
- Throat culture: Diagnoses or rules out an infection in this part of the body.
- Urine culture: Detects if there is a urinary tract infection and identifies the bacteria causing the infection.
- Sputum culture: Sputum is a thick mucus that is coughed up from the lungs. It is different from spit or saliva. This culture identifies respiratory tract infections such as bacterial pneumonia and bronchitis.
- Blood culture: Detects the presence of bacteria or fungi.
- Fecal matter culture: Detects infections caused by bacteria or parasites in the digestive system such as with cases of food poisoning and other digestive diseases.
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