A toxicology test checks blood, urine, or saliva for
the presence of drugs or chemicals. In rare cases, stomach contents or sweat may
also be checked.
Drugs can be accidentally or deliberately
swallowed, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through a skin surface or
mucous membrane. These include prescription medicines,
nonprescription medicine (such as aspirin or acetaminophen), vitamins,
nutritional supplements, alcohol, and illegal drugs, such as cocaine and
A toxicology test may check for one specific drug or for
up to 30 different drugs at once. Testing is often done on a urine or saliva sample
instead of blood, because urine and saliva tests are usually easier to do than blood tests
and many drugs show up in either urine or saliva. Traces of a drug may remain in urine longer than in blood. Urine tests often can detect drug use within the last 5 days. Saliva testing can detect drugs used within the past day.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
November 8, 2011
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