How Are Ketones and Diabetes Related?


Quick Answer

Ketone levels are related to diabetes because high levels in the blood and urine indicate insufficient insulin levels, an insulin reaction or the need to eat, reports the American Diabetes Association. When the body has insufficient levels of insulin or glucose, it burns fat and produces ketones.

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Full Answer

High levels of ketones can cause the blood to become acidic, according to the American Diabetes Association. This can result in diabetic ketoacidosis, which can lead to diabetic coma or death. Diabetic ketoacidosis most often affects Type 1 diabetics.

Early symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include high blood glucose, frequent urination, thirst, dry mouth and high ketone levels in the urine, states the American Diabetes Association. Subsequent symptoms include dry or flushed skin, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and a fruity odor on the breath, as well as confusion and a constant feeling of tiredness. These symptoms require immediate medical evaluation and treatment.

Urine test strips indicate the level of ketones present in a test sample. A level of more than 80 milligrams per deciliter is high, explains MedlinePlus. Doctors advise patients to monitor ketone levels during pregnancy or when blood glucose levels are higher than 240 milligrams per deciliter, illness is present, or nausea or vomiting has occurred.

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