Cotinine is a byproduct of nicotine. It is a residual element, a nicotine metabolite, which remains in the body of individuals who consume tobacco regularly.
A cotinine urine test is conducted to detect cotinine (nicotine) levels in a person's body. This will indicate tobacco usage of the individual. A cotinine urine test is for forensic purposes only. It only indicates tobacco usage through cotinine levels and cannot diagnose any other disease or ailment.
There is no specific preparation required for this urine test. Cotinine is detected in the urine for two to four days after the use of tobacco. It is important to know that cotinine levels not only depend on how many cigarettes you smoke but also on the type. You could smoke ten cigarettes only whereas another individual may have smoked 15, and yet your cotinine levels could be higher. This could be because your cigarette would have been unfiltered whereas the other person may have smoked a filtered one.
Cotinine urine test is a simple urine test conducted at labs. There are tests available now that can be taken at home as well. Taking a cotinine urine test is much like taking a pregnancy test. Doctors working with tobacco addicts rely on these tests, as these can detect tobacco consumption of an individual fairly accurately.
Cotinine urine test is an immunoassay test that qualitatively detects cotinine in the urine of an individual at a sensitivity of 200 ng/ml.
In this test, the test device has a strip pre-coated with a cotinine antigen. Much like a pregnancy test, a couple of drops of urine need to be dropped into the circular area with a cotton pad. From there, the urine travels to the strip which has the cotinine antigen. In addition to this there is another antigen coated area on the testing strip known as the Control region (usually indicated on the strip with a C). Whether a test is positive or negative, a line should show against the Control region to indicate the validity of the test. If there is no line against Control or C, then the test is invalid and you'll need to take a fresh test with another kit.
A positive result is indicated if there are cotinine levels in the urine. There will be one more line (usually pink in color) in addition to the Control line on the strip. So, two lines on the strip indicate the presence of cotinine. When there is only one line it's a negative result, which means there is no presence of cotinine in the urine.