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Ketones, Urine


What are ketones?

Ketones (KEY-tones) are formed when your body uses fat for energy. Glucose, the simplest form of sugar, is what your body is supposed to use for energy. Sometimes sugar cannot be used for energy and it stays in your blood. When sugar builds up in your blood, your body uses fat for energy. If you have diabetes, you may have seen the "check ketones" message on your glucose meter. This means your blood sugar is higher than it should be. Using fat for energy causes your body to make more sugar and ketones than the blood can hold. The kidneys start cleaning the extra sugar and ketones from your blood for removal in the urine. Having ketones in your blood or urine causes fruity smelling breath. This odor is sometimes mistaken for alcohol. Ask your caregiver for more information about diabetes.

Why do I need to test for ketones?

If your blood sugars have been high, your caregivers may want you to test for ketones. The results of this test may help them decide if your diabetes medicines need to be changed.

How do I test for urine ketones?

Ketone dipsticks are used for this test. A dipstick is a thin plastic strip that has a pad at the end of the strip with chemicals to test for ketones. The chemicals on the ketone dipsticks test pad turn purple when there are ketones in your urine. You can get ketone dipsticks at most drug stores. Follow the instructions that come with the ketone dipstick kit exactly. When choosing a Ketone test kit follow these guidelines:

  • Read the label to be sure the test kit you are getting is FDA approved.
  • Make sure the date on the test kit has not expired (passed).
  • Be sure you store the test kit at the correct temperature and light conditions.

Other tips that may help you with the test:

  • The urine specimen must be fresh and may be collected at any time of the day.
    • You may urinate into a clean disposable (plastic or paper) cup. Dip the test pad part of the stick into the urine and remove it quickly. Shake off excess urine.
    • You may pass a stream of urine over the test pad on the stick. Shake off excess urine.
  • Whether you dip the pad or pass a stream over it, wait the exact time stated for that strip.
  • Compare the color on the pad to the color on the chart on the dipstick bottle.
  • Write the test result in your diabetes record book and call your caregiver with the results.
  • Be sure to read the color on the pad at the exact time specified for that strip.

What are some other causes of ketones in my urine?

  • Alcoholism.
  • High protein diets.
  • Malnutrition (when your body does not receive the nutrients that it needs).
  • Some weight loss diets.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care or your child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about diabetes and how to test your urine for ketones. You can then discuss your treatment options with your caregivers. You can work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you or your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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