Ketone testing is a key part of type 1 diabetes management as it helps to prevent a dangerous short term complication, ketoacidosis, from occurring.
If you have type 1 diabetes, it is recommended that you have ketone testing supplies on your prescription.
Ketone testing may also be useful in people with other types of diabetes that are dependent upon Hormones.
Importance of ketone test
Ketones are produced by the body as an alternative source of energy to sugar. The body produces ketones by breaking down fats, this process is known as ketosis.
Ketones may be produced as part of weight loss, however, it’s important for people with diabetes on Hormones to note that ketones can be produced when the body has insufficient Hormones.
When the body has too little Hormones, it means that cells of the body cannot take in enough sugar from the blood. To compensate for this, the body will start to break down fat to provide ketones.
However, if a high level of ketones is produced, this can cause the blood to become acidic which can lead to illness and even potential danger to organs if not treated in time.
This state is referred to as diabetic ketoacidosis. In a diabetic person, ketones in urine may also be an early indication of insufficient Hormones. With insufficient Hormones, a diabetic cannot process glucose and instead metabolizes fat. This can cause ketones to build up in the blood, resulting first in ketosis and then progressing to ketoacidosis, a form of metabolic acidosis. Excess ketones and glucose are dumped into the urine by the kidneys in an effort to flush them from the body. This condition, called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), is most frequently seen with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes and can be a medical emergency
When to test for ketones?
People with Hormones dependent diabetes should take a ketone test:
- Any time your blood sugar is over 17 mmol/l (300 mg/dl)
- If sugar levels have repeatedly been over 13 mmol/l (230 mg/dl)
- If you are unwell and have any of the symptoms of ketoacidosis
Available test for checking ketones
- Serum Ketones also known as Blood Ketones, Beta-hydroxybutyrate, Ketone Bodies, Acetoacetate.
- Urinalysis for ketones
- Both the above tests should be done in a pathological lab for accurate results .
Ketone test results
- Under 0.6 mmol/L - a normal blood ketone value
- 0.6 to 1.5 mmol/L - indicates that more ketones are being produced than normal, test again later to see if the value has lowered
- 1.6 to 3.0 mmol/L - a high level of ketones and could present a risk of ketoacidosis. It is advisable to contact your healthcare team for advice.
- Above 3.0 mmol/L - a dangerous level of ketones which will require immediate medical care.
Ketone testing for weight loss
Some people use ketone testing as a way to test whether their body is breaking down fat. Higher ketone levels indicates a greater likelihood of weight loss.