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Why people living with GERD may fail a breathalyzer test

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | DUI

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called acid reflux, is a digestive condition in which stomach acid repeatedly flows into the food piping (the esophagus) and the mouth. People living with GERD can fail a breathalyzer test even without drinking alcohol.

Here is how this can happen:

Stomach alcohol can flow back into the mouth

When stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and the mouth, stomach/gastric alcohol can also flow back. A breathalyzer test can detect this alcohol, resulting in a false positive.

Further, someone living with GERD is likely to have elevated blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) when they drink. Therefore, if they drink the same amount of alcohol as someone else without GERD, their BAC levels can be inaccurate due to the additional gastric alcohol measured by a breathalyzer.

What should you do?

If you believe GERD affected your breathalyzer readings, gather your medical records to establish you have a condition that can result in a false positive in blood alcohol testing or elevated readings.

If you are not diagnosed with GERD, it may be time to seek medical help, especially if you have always had concerning symptoms, such as backwash of food or sour liquid in the throat, heartburn, upper belly or chest pain, excessive belching and trouble swallowing.

Besides your medical records, your doctor can testify in your defense. They can provide in-depth information on how the condition you are suffering from may have led to you failing the breathalyzer test.

Medical defenses are not uncommon in drunk driving cases. If you fail a breathalyzer test or believe the results you received are inaccurate, learn more about your health conditions to determine the reason behind your readings and, in turn, defend yourself.