What is the importance of ketones? Well, our bodies run mainly on sugar also known as glucose.
So, when the body is low on sugar, or in case we have an insufficient amount of insulin, in order to help the cells take in the sugar, our body begins to break down fats for energy.
Ketone bodies, i.e., ketones are actually byproducts due to the breakdown of the fatty acids. As a matter of fact, the production of ketones and the breakdown of fat for fuel is an entirely normal process.
In a healthy individual, glucagon, insulin, and other hormones help prevent too high levels of ketone in the blood. But, those who have diabetes have a risk for a buildup of ketones in their blood.
So if this is left untreated, individuals who have type 1 diabetes have a risk of developing a medical condition known as DKA, i.e., diabetic ketoacidosis.
Although rare, it is still possible for individuals with type 2 to have DKA in specific circumstances.
So, now that we understand ketones and what causes them to buildup we need to do whatever possible to prevent it or treat it. But in order to do that we need to know the signs and how to do ketone testing.
Signs That We Need to Do Ketone Testing
We should be aware of the signs that having excess ketones in the body might cause.
Such signs are:
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
- Blood glucose levels higher than 240 mg/dL
- Increased thirst
- In case you leave this untreated, the signs might progress to:
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Flushed skin
- A fruity breath
In case we have these signs, it is vital to consult our doctor immediately. In case we test our ketone levels and find out that they are too high, we must treat this right away.
How to find out if our ketones are too high? We need to do a test. Read on to find out more about this.
How to Test Our Ketones?
In order to measure the ketone levels, we need to test our urine or blood. This testing can be done from the comfort of our home.
At-home testing kits are actually available for these types of tests. But urine testing is more common. It is like that since urine tests are accessible without a prescription and also we can buy these tests online.
How To Do Common Tests for Ketones Ourselves?
To do a urine test, we need to urinate into a container. Then we need to dip a test strip into the container with our urine. In case we need to do this test on a kid who isn’t potty-trained, we can press the test strip to our kid’s wet diaper.
In fact, urine testing strips have specific chemicals which change colors when these strips react with ketones. Find out the results of the test by comparing the test strip to a color chart which is usually found on the package.
In case we have ketones in the urine, it means we have what’s known as ketonuria.
An at-home meter is accessible to test for ketones in the blood. This is done similarly to a finger-stick sugar test. What we need to do is prick our finger with the help of a needle and put a drop of our blood onto the suitable testing area.
Often, doctors recommend that individuals who have just gotten a diagnosis of chronic disease test their ketones twice on a daily basis.
When Should We Test for Ketones?
- We feel nauseated or sick, no matter our blood glucose reading.
- Anytime our blood sugar is higher than 250 mg/dL for 2 tests in a row.
- When we have signs of DKA.
- In case we are ill. Often injuries, illness, and infection might lead to sudden high blood sugar, and this is a crucial time to check for ketones.
- In case we’re pregnant, we need to test for ketones every morning before having breakfast, and anytime we see that our blood sugar is higher than 250 mg/dl.
How to Treat High Ketone Levels
By treating our high levels of ketone, we can avoid hospitalization for DKA. We should consult our doctor about what we should do to help moderate our ketone levels.
In case we can’t treat this at home or in case our ketones continue to rise, we will need to get medical treatment.
Possible treatments are:
- Intravenous fluid replacement
- Electrolyte replacement
What If Our Ketones Are Too High?
Ketones might make our blood acidic. Such blood can lead to DKA.
And the most severe effects of DKA are:
- Diabetic coma
- Loss of consciousness
- Swelling of the brain
Therefore, it is vital to treat our ketones or prevent them from getting high in the first place.
How to Prevent High Ketone Levels?
Is there any way to prevent this? Well, the key to preventing high levels of ketones is to have careful management of our condition.
We should do the following in order to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and production of ketone to a minimum:
Follow a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Managing the insulin dosage and our carb intake is crucial for managing the disease. We should consult a registered dietitian in case we need help to control our diet.
Check Blood Glucose Levels on a Regular Basis
Our physician will tell us how frequently we will need to check the blood glucose levels. However, usually, this is from 4 to 6 times on a daily basis.
Also, we need to check our blood glucose levels more often in these cases:
- If we are sick
- In case we are having signs of low blood glucose or high blood glucose.
- Our blood glucose levels are getting higher.