Cold or URI

Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URI)/Cold/Flu Upper respiratory infections (URI) effect evidentiary breath testing such that results are erroneously elevated and do not represent the true blood alcohol level. This occurs due to at least two factors,
(1) the temperature elevation associated with an inflammatory response and
(2) the production of alcohol laden secretions that contaminate the breath specimen.

URI’s and the resultant inflammation lead to an elevation of local and core body temperature. An elevation of temperature is known to elevate the results on evidentiary breath testing. (Glyn R. Fox, PhD and John S. Hayward, PhD, “Effect of Hyperthermia on Breath Alcohol Analysis,” Journal of Forensic Sciences, JFSCA, Vol. 34, No. 4, July 1989, pp. 836-841.)

URI’s also result in the production of inflammatory secretions in the upper airways. Such secretions are derived from blood and contain blood products. As such, they would also contain an alcohol content significantly greater than that of expired air. The presence of these secretions in the upper airways would result in contamination of the breath specimen. This contamination is a form of pre-analytic error.

{Breath test}