truck-icon-red-banner

Same day local dispatch

australia-icon-red-banner

Australian owned

Breathalysers

1-3 year warranty

breathalyser

Australia's industry specialist

Lab Test for Alcohol: What Are The Types?

06 November, 2023

A group of patients waiting in a laboratory clinic

In society, alcoholic drinks have become part of the lives of many people. However, it is essential to be aware of the potential risks and consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. To address this concern, lab tests for alcohol offer various types of tests that can detect ethanol concentration. Accordingly, this includes the utilisation of urine samples, saliva samples, breath testing, blood testing, or hair alcohol testing. These methods help people determine alcohol misuse for an alcohol treatment program.

Alcohol consumption is a common practice in many settings. Hence, individuals often wonder how to monitor ethanol toxicity in the system. Whether it is for legal reasons or personal purposes, knowing the different laboratory tests for heavy alcohol consumption can be helpful. From urine to blood alcohol testing, each method has its advantages and accuracy level. This article will present more about urine analysis, oral fluid, breath, blood and hair follicle assessment.

Lab Test for Alcohol – Urine Analysis

The lab test for alcohol using urine analysis is a method to detect the presence of alcohol metabolites in the system by analysing urine samples. This test can provide important information about the previous alcohol consumption of a person. Accordingly, this method has a longer detection period than the saliva testing. Typically, ethanol can be monitored in urine for 12 to 24 hours after consumption.

To begin the process, a person provides a urine sample, usually collected in a sterile container. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing, where professionals can determine the presence of alcohol metabolites in the specimen. Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) is the primary metabolite tested for in urine as it remains in the body for a longer period than the alcohol itself.

In the laboratory, professionals use methods such as liquid chromatography or immunoassay. A positive result from the urine analysis indicates excessive drinking occurs within a certain time frame. It is important to note that alcohol urine testing can detect recent consumption of alcohol but cannot determine the exact amount of alcohol consumed.

Advantages of Urine Tests

The following are the advantages of alcohol urine testing:

  • Non-invasive – it does not require any special procedures or tools that may cause discomfort or pain.
  • Widely available – it can be beneficial for various settings, including medical facilities, workplaces, and legal institutions.
  • Wide detection window – it has a longer detection than saliva testing, which allows for a broader assessment of the level of alcohol consumption.
  • Evaluates recent use – it can asses recent ethanol use. This is particularly useful in situations where recent alcohol consumption needs to be evaluated, such as in workplace testing or legal proceedings.
  • Comprehensive testing – it can also monitor metabolites such as EtG.

A professional-grade breathalyser with an attached sampling cup

Lab Test for Alcohol – Oral Fluid and Breath Sample

Alcohol tests can be through the assessment of oral fluid and a sample of breath. These methods are valuable for lab tests for alcohol in monitoring blood alcohol levels. For oral fluid testing, the collector uses a swab to obtain saliva samples. The sample is sent for laboratory testing, where it can trace alcohol if a person has consumed it recently.

On the other hand, breath tests use a breath alcohol equipment or a breathalyser device. A person will exhale in the mouthpiece, which measures the concentration of alcohol molecules in the breath. The device then converts it into the percentage of alcohol indicating Blood Alcohol Concentration levels (BAC). This can indicate a person’s degree of intoxication.

Both saliva and breath testing use specific instruments and techniques to analyse the specimen. The analysis typically includes methods like gas chromatography or spectrophotometry. These methods separate the components in the oral fluid and breath sample and accurately measure the concentration of alcohol.

Using a Breathalyser

A breathalyser is a standard method to monitor the concentration of alcohol in the breath of a person. When someone blows into the device, it analyses the breath and gives a reading of the BAC level. This reading indicates the percentage of blood alcohol in the bloodstream. Accordingly, the device is convenient, quick, and portable, making it popular for testing drinking levels.

The device either utilises a semiconductor sensor or fuel cell technology. Semiconductor devices can detect ethanol and other compounds. Meanwhile, fuel cell breathalysers are more advanced as they only respond to ethanol and not other substances.

A blood sample in three containers

Lab Test for Alcohol – Blood and Hair Follicle

Blood and hair follicles are other methods to monitor heavy drinking. A lab test for alcohol can be done using both techniques to determine the presence and concentration of ethanol. However, the two work in different ways. Blood tests involve drawing blood from the vein of a person, usually from the arm. The blood sample is then forwarded to a laboratory for testing.

In the lab, various methods can measure the blood alcohol content. This can be gas chromatography or enzymatic assays. The tests provide an accurate measurement of BAC at the time of the collection of specimens. Hair testing, on the other hand, involves collecting a small sample of hair strands, usually from the scalp. These samples contain traces of alcohol metabolites that are absorbed by the body.

Subsequently, a laboratory will test the specimen using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. These tests can detect the breakdown products of ethanol in the hair. The assessment can provide an estimate of alcohol consumption over a longer period. Nevertheless, blood testing gives accurate and reliable results over all the methods. Meanwhile, hair test has a wider detection window.

Accuracy and Reliability

Blood testing and hair testing are accurate and reliable methods for alcohol testing due to their ability to provide objective and quantitative results. Blood testing measures the actual alcohol concentration in the bloodstream, providing a direct measurement of intoxication levels. This method is highly accurate and widely accepted in legal and medical settings.

On the other hand, hair testing can detect alcohol metabolites in the hair shaft. This method can provide a historical record of alcohol consumption and is particularly useful in confirming recent alcohol use. Both blood and hair testing offer dependable results, making them valuable tools in ethanol testing scenarios.

Conclusion

Lab test for alcohol is a crucial approach to identifying and treating people with alcohol use disorder. The testing methods such as urine, oral fluid, breath, blood, and hair testing are valuable in detecting the presence of alcohol. Urine testing offers a non-invasive approach and has a detection window longer than saliva testing. Oral fluid and breath testing can provide quick results and can monitor alcohol use for about 12 hours.

On the other hand, blood testing offers a more accurate and reliable result. This is possible due to the direct assessment of ethanol in the blood of a person. Hair testing is beneficial as it has a wider detection window of up to 90 days or more. Nevertheless, each method has its advantages and limitations. People who need to undergo the test should ask advice from the lab professionals for the most suitable method.

0
    Shopping Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
      Calculate Shipping
      Shipping options will be updated during checkout.

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Driving Restrictions? (P Platers, Zero Tolerance etc)

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended