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What is an EtG Test? 3 Important Things You Should Know About It

B
Bajaj Finserv Health
April 12th, 2022
8 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • EtG tests can determine alcohol consumption by detecting ethyl glucuronide
  • EtG tests are also used as a protocol before surgeries or in legal situations
  • Lab test results higher than 1000ng/ml indicate a high consumption

EtG test is an alcohol detection test used to determine whether a person has consumed alcohol [1]. EtG stands for ethyl glucuronide which is a breakdown product of ethanol, the intoxicating element of alcohol. The test is generally performed using your urine sample, but one can also use samples of hair, nails or blood.

EtG test was at first used in detecting the presence of alcohol in urine. It has now become one of the most common methods to determine someone’s abstinence from alcohol and other consumables containing ethanol. The situations in which an EtG test is generally used are  

  • For those who have enrolled with an alcohol treatment program  
  • As a protocol for liver transplant 
  • Medical tests in military or schools 
  • Tests used by authorities to determine “driving under influence” or “driving while intoxicated” 
  • Legal situations like proceedings of child custody which require such a test 
  • Monitoring professionals in healthcare, aviation and various other sectors

There can be other scenarios which may need an EtG test. In most cases, this test is done for the best interests of your health or for the well-being of others around you. Read on to know more important facts about the EtG test.

How does the EtG test work? 

When you consume alcohol, your body breaks it down into different kinds of metabolites out of which one is EtG. Depending on how much you consume, these metabolites remain in your body for one to five days. As a result of this, EtG test is especially helpful in monitoring abstinence from alcohol. Breath analyzers cannot do this as they can only identify if a person is intoxicated at that very moment. On the other hand, EtG tests can identify the minutest exposure to alcohol. Some common ethanol-containing products that may produce false positives are 

  • Mouthwash 
  • Aftershave 
  • Hand sanitizers 
  • Cosmetics
  • Breath spray
  • Household cleaning products
  • Hair dyes
  • Foods made with the help of alcohol

Keep in mind that this is not a conclusive list. There can be other products that could trigger a positive result in an EtG test.

Additional Read: Lipoprotein (a) Test

How sensitive is the EtG test? 

Saliva or breath tests cannot detect alcohol once your body naturally eliminates it. This is why using the EtG test has better chances of detecting alcohol in your body. This lab test is highly sensitive and is able to detect alcohol at extreme low levels as well. As it can detect alcohol consumed days before, EtG tests are useful to monitor people who suffer from alcohol abuse. If you are not misusing alcohol, the test can detect alcohol in your urine for up to 80 hours after consumption.

Things that effects EtG test

things that effects EtG test

How do you understand the results of an EtG Test? 

EtG test is one of the most reliable tests to confirm consumption of alcohol products in the days prior the test. A positive EtG test confirms your exposure to ethanol in the days leading up to your urinalysis. A negative test shows that you were not exposed to ethanol within the testing time frame.

Following are the guidelines set by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) for the results of an EtG test [2]: 

High positive 

Levels higher than 1,000ng/ml in your urine is generally considered a high result. It most likely means there was heavy drinking on the day of the testing or the previous day.

Low positive 

Levels between 500ng/ml to 1000ng/ml are usually considered low positives. A low positive signifies heavy drinking 1 to 3 days before the test or light drinking not more than 24 hours prior to the test. It can also mean you have had high exposure to products containing alcohol within the last 24 hours.

  • Very low positive 
  • Results less than 500ng/ml are extremely low, and they usually indicate light drinking.

Apart from these, there are some situations in which a person can get a false positive. For instance, if your urine sample remains at room temperature or stored improperly it can cause a false positive result. This happens because EtG levels can increase in these conditions due to bacteria growth. That is why the lab test results are given to you quickly. Note that a patient with diabetes and a urinary tract infection may produce higher levels of EtG.

Additional Read: Lipid Profile Test

Conclusion

Overall, the EtG test is very useful to determine any recent alcohol consumption or overdose. In case you get a false positive result, you can go for another test to get an accurate result. If you are suffering from alcohol addiction, you can talk to a specialist. Book an online appointment with top doctors on Bajaj Finserv Health and let them guide you through the test up to abstinence. You can also consult them from the comfort of your home by booking an online consultation. Get help without any hesitation and start living a better life. Avail Bajaj Finserv Health card and Get Rs. 2,500 Lab & OPD benefit which can be used across pan India

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