The urine cotinine test is prescribed to people who are applying for a job. This test is also requested by healthcare workers to observe if people who do excessive smoking are consuming nicotine or not. People who have enrolled in smoking cessation programs are often prescribed the urine cotinine test so that the progress of quitting smoking can be estimated. It is also known as: nicotine screening test, cotinine screening test, and smoking biomarker testing.
The urine cotinine nicotine test checks if the person has smoked recently. Nicotine addiction is common across the globe. Be it smoking or chewing tobacco leaves, nicotine in the system over a prolonged time has shown to develop life-threatening conditions. People smoking e-cigarettes or vapes are also at risk of having high levels of nicotine in their systems. Symptoms of nicotine overdose are:
Apart from these symptoms, nicotine causes dependence, that hinders the proper functioning of the brain and also adversely affects a person’s social life.
Cotinine is known to improve memory retention and to increase alertness. But, when people are addicted to nicotine and overuse the substance, the stress generated in the body can lead to harmful effects.
People who are on the road to quit smoking are given nicotine gums or nicotine patches. These have a smaller amount of nicotine that helps the body adjust to withdrawal symptoms.
The urine cotinine test is usually prescribed in order to check for the levels of cotinine in the system. Once nicotine enters the body, it becomes cotinine. Cotinine has a longer shelf-life within the body as it is more stable. In fact, cotinine stays in the system for up to 10 days.
The urine cotinine nicotine test procedure involves collecting urine samples. There are no risks or side effects associated with the sample collection. The procedure that should be followed in order to ensure accurate results is that:
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There are medications that affect the rate at which cotinine gets metabolized in the system. Medications that speed up the process are antibiotics like rifampin or phenobarbital. Medications that slow the process are antifungals or medicine for high blood pressure. Apart from medicines, consumption of vegetables like cauliflowers, eggplants, or potatoes that contain natural nicotine prior to testing can affect the result.
Nicotine patches work on delivering nicotine in the body via the skin. These patches are used as nicotine replacement therapy and have good success rates.
When a person relies on a substance for a long time and suddenly gives it up, the body goes through a cycle to return to normal. It’s a part of adjusting. People going through nicotine withdrawal suffer the following symptoms:
The test can be qualitative or quantitative. While the former reports on finding the presence or absence of cotinine, the latter denotes the levels of cotinine present in the body. The results can either be positive or negative. While negative results are a clear indication that nicotine products were not consumed, a positive result should be tested against the levels determined to understand if the person is back to the addicted phase or not.
Cotinine levels are measured in nanograms per milliliter or mg/mL. For a nonsmoker, the levels are generally less than 10 ng/mL. Light smokers or people heavily exposed to second-hand smoke generally have levels between 11 ng/mL to 30 ng/mL. Chain smokers and nicotine addicts have 500 ng/mL or more levels of cotinine in the system.
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