Ethanol is another name for alcohol. The ethanol / alcohol urine test detects the level of ethanol in urine and is used for both medical and legal purposes.
Ethanol is quickly absorbed by the body and its presence in blood can be detected within minutes of having a drink. Peak concentration of ethanol occurs about 1 hour after drinking. It may take longer for these levels to be reached if there is food present in the stomach at the time of drinking. Thereafter, 90% of the ethanol is broken down in the liver with the balance being passed out of the body in urine and exhaled breath.
When the ethanol urine test is done for medical reasons, it seeks to identify the presence of ethanol and determine its level in a person's body. This helps to determine the cause as well as the degree of intoxication so that appropriate treatment can be administered. At times the doctor may also order an ethanol blood test as well as other blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), depending on the symptoms that a person exhibits. Testing may also be performed to detect the presence of more toxic forms of alcohol such as methanol and isopropyl alcohol, as well as other drugs in case their presence is suspected.
When performed for legal reasons, the ethanol urine test helps establish the presence of alcohol as well as levels in an intoxicated individual's body. The testing may be ordered for a variety of reasons, such as determining if an under-age minor has been drinking or if alcohol consumption has contributed to a vehicle accident. Ethanol urine testing may also be performed when applying for an insurance policy or as part of an employer's drug and alcohol screening program. All forms of legal testing must be performed by people with specialized training with strict chain-of-custody procedures being followed.
When testing for legal purposes, the ethanol urine test may be performed to confirm or refute the results of a breathalyzer test. Usually the first sample taken is an unreliable indicator of ethanol levels because it is uncertain how long the urine has been in the bladder. A second sample taken about half an hour after the first is a more reliable indicator.
Ethanol urine test results from a sample can indicate whether a person has been drinking as well as the degree of intoxication based on the concentration of ethanol in the urine. Symptoms may vary from person to person depending on the general health and age of the individual. Other medication or drugs being taken by the individual can also cause complications.
Here are a few interpretations of the test results: