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November 1, 2011

Hyperglycemia and DKA, Other

Question from Hutchinson, Minnesota, USA:

If a person is going into diabetic ketoacidosis and his kidneys are only working at 42%, can he register a false positive on a breath test if he has previously taken Nyquil?


The measurement of gases in a breath test have to do with measuring alcohol released from the lungs and whether acetone, also a volatile gas produced from the breakdown of serum ketones, causes false positives (meaning the acetone was confused with alcohol). The issue here is that kidney failure may allow for prolonged resident time for the ketones in the blood, leading to higher levels of acetone in the breath, that might be confused with alcohol. Nyquil has alcohol in it. Alcohol would certainly be measured as a volatile gas, but it is primarily removed by the liver and is not as likely to be affected by kidney failure. This is a technical issue for the manufacture of the machine that made the measurement and one that I cannot answer specifically.