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How Does Alcohol Testing Work?

How Does Alcohol Testing Work?

Alcohol tests are a type of screening test used to measure how much alcohol is in your body. There are many reasons you might need an alcohol test, but they’re often included in many types of pre-employment health screenings. Some employers also require routine alcohol tests. Both drug and alcohol testing is part of DOT physicals too.

As occupational medicine specialists, Drs. Ines Munoz De Laborde and Svetlana Burkhead know that accurate alcohol testing is important, especially when it comes to maintaining excellent records with your place of employment. 

That’s why we proudly offer alcohol testing as part of our occupational medicine services. Below, we explore this topic in more detail, including how alcohol testing works.

Exploring the different types of alcohol tests

There are many different ways to measure the alcohol content in your body. It can be measured through a blood test, a urine test, a saliva test, and even through your breath. 

Here at Physicians Medical Urgent Care, our team conducts two types of breath alcohol testing right here in our San Jose office.

Electronic breath alcohol testing

Electronic breath alcohol testing is more often referred to as a breathalyzer test. During this type of alcohol test, you blow into a mouthpiece. The attached electronic reader immediately calculates your blood alcohol content, or BAC. In the next section, we explain how breathing can determine the alcohol content in your blood.

How do breathalyzers work? 

As your blood (which contains the alcohol) moves through your lungs, some of the alcohol evaporates into the alveolar air. As you exhale, the device can pick the evaporated alcohol in your breath. Blood alcohol and breath alcohol aren't measured the same way, but you can determine the blood alcohol once you know the ratio of breath alcohol to blood alcohol. The ratio is 2100:1, which means that just one millimeter of your blood contains the same amount of alcohol as 2100 milliliters of alveolar air.

Manual breath alcohol testing

Like the electronic breath alcohol test, the manual breath alcohol test also requires you to breathe into a tube. However, the manual test isn’t connected to an electronic reader. Rather, you blow into a balloon. You then release the air from the balloon into a glass tube filled with crystals. 

Depending on how much alcohol is in your system, the bands on the tube change color from yellow to green. If you have one green band, your BAC is 0.05% or lower. If two green bands appear, the BAC results are between 0.05% and 0.10%, and if three green bands appear, the BAC is between 0.10% and 0.15%. 

Why alcohol testing matters

Accurate alcohol testing can play a big role in your employment status, whether you’re starting a new job or are renewing certifications. For instance, you may not be able to renew certifications or licenses if you have a BAC reading of 0.08% or over. So when you need accurate results, trust the experts. Here at Physicians Medical Urgent Care, we also offer other types of alcohol testing, including blood testing and urinalysis to confirm your BAC reading.

Questions about an upcoming alcohol test? Schedule an appointment in our San Jose, California, office by calling 408-207-4637. You can also schedule an appointment online.

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