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A ketone test checks for ketones in your blood or urine. Ketones are substances that are made when the body breaks down fat for energy. Normally, your body gets the energy it needs from carbohydrate in your diet. But stored fat is broken down and ketones are made if your diet does not contain enough carbohydrates to supply the body with sugar (glucose) for energy or if your body can't use blood sugar (glucose) properly.
Ketones can be tested in a laboratory. Or you can test for ketones anywhere you may be by using home blood or urine tests.
A blood test analyzed by a laboratory is the most accurate method of measuring ketones. It is recommended for all people with diabetes whenever symptoms of illness are present, such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain. These symptoms often happen with high blood sugar and may mean you have diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Home blood or urine ketone tests:
No special preparation is needed before having this test.
A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from an arm.
Some home blood sugar meters can also measure blood ketones. You use the same finger-prick method that you use to measure blood sugar.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
Your finger may feel sore after pricking it for a drop of blood for the test.
There is normally no discomfort involved with collecting a urine sample.
There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. A small bruise may form at the site. To lower the chance of bruising, keep pressure on the site for several minutes.
There is very little risk of complications from testing your blood for ketones with a home blood sugar meter.
There are no risks associated with collecting a urine sample.
There are no ketones in your blood or urine.
Ketones are present in your blood or urine.
Home blood sugar meters that also test for ketones display results on the meter's screen.
In people who have diabetes, blood ketones are expected to be lower than 0.6 mmol/L.
Ketones are present in the urine if:
You usually compare the colour of the test strip or urine to a chart to find out if ketones are present.
You may have ketones if you:
The level of ketones, and not just the presence of ketones, may be important to your doctor as well. Many conditions can change ketone levels. Fasting usually causes only mild increases in the level. But ketone levels in diabetic ketoacidosis are much higher. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineMatthew I. Kim MD - EndocrinologyDavid C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Matthew I. Kim MD - Endocrinology & David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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