When I get a sore throat why does the doctor stick that wood thing down my throat?

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Sore throats are usually caused by viruses. But some are caused by bacteria called streptococcus. When this happens, we say the person has strep throat. Doctors use the stick to push your tongue down (and have you say “ahh”) so we have a better view of your throat. We're looking for redness and white patches on the tonsils. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you have strep by just looking, so the doctor swabs your throat to remove some of the infection. We check the sample in the office to determine if you have strep. We also send it to a lab to double check. It's important to treat the infection so it doesn't spread to other parts of your body-like your heart.

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