Conducting nicotine tests as part of pre-insurance medical checks is a common practice by insurance companies. Today, a variety of nicotine test kits are available in the market making it easy for insurance companies to conduct test without the assistance of medical professionals. However, choosing a reliable test kit that effectively detects nicotine users is essential for proper decision making.
This article gives you a clear picture on various nicotine test kits, their working principle and their pros and cons to help you choose a reliable test kit.
Nicotine test – Working principle
In general, nicotine test kits work on the principle of antigen-antibody reaction or immunoassay reaction. In absence of nicotine, the antibody freely goes and binds with antigen, colors it, thus shows a negative result. In presence of nicotine, antibody cannot color antigen as cotinine prevents antibody from coloring the antigen showing a positive result. The same principle applies for nicotine test kits using urine, saliva and blood as samples.
Types of nicotine tests
In general, four types of tests are done to detect presence of nicotine/cotinine in the body of smokers. They include urine test, saliva test, hair test, blood test. Let us discuss each briefly.
Nicotine urine test kits
- Sample used in this test is urine.
- A typical urine test kit contains a membrane strip with antigen at test region, gold antibody to mix with urine sample, dropper to place sample and an instruction guide.
- Urine test is non-invasive and gives quick results in less than 5 minutes. It has a detection window of 2-4 days i.e., nicotine use 2-4 days before testing can be detected.
Nicotine saliva test kit
- Sample used in this test is saliva.
- It is also a non-invasive test.
- Detection window for this test is 1-4 days.
- It is more reliable test than urine test.
Nicotine hair test
- Hair follicles are used as sample in this test.
- Detection window is 90 days.
- Hair sample approx. 1.5 inch of hair is taken and sent to laboratory for diagnoses.
- This test gives accurate results.
- It is rarely chosen by insurance companies because of its cost.
- It is an invasive test where a blood sample is taken.
- Detection window for regular smokers is two weeks and for non-regular smokers it is 2-4 days.
- It is a laboratory test.
These are the four tests available for nicotine detection. Only two of them (urine and saliva) are used by the insurance companies because they enable in-house drug testing. Let us discuss the pros and cons of those two tests.
Pros and cons of choosing urine test kit
Urine test kit is less expensive and easy to use. It involves non-invasive techniques for sample collection. Results are fast and thus help insurance companies take quick decisions. No extra professionals are required to conduct these tests.
Disadvantages of these kits are low detection window, privacy issues during sample collection, and chances of sample adulteration.
Pros and cons of choosing saliva test kit
Sample collection using saliva test kits is easy. You can sit with the person to collect the sample. Detection window is same as urine test. Gives fast results.
Coming to disadvantages, there is a chance of misinterpretation of nicotine levels as nicotine may enter body through some foods apart from tobacco products.
While choosing a test kit, make sure that you approach reliable dealers who not only offer best quality products but also offer the products at affordable prices. When you are purchasing kits go for bulk purchase instead of single kits so that you can expect decent discounts. You can also purchase online as many reliable dealers have online stores. Continue reading