February 15, 2002, Newsletter Issue #2: Monitoring Ketones

Tip of the Week

When the body does not have sufficient insulin to use glucose as its energy source, it will try to use fat instead. After awhile, byproducts of this fat metabolism called ketones will build up in the blood stream, and will show up in the urine.

High levels of ketones can be toxic to the body and brain, and disrupt the normal chemical balances in the blood.

Monitoring for ketones should be done:

During illness (when insulin needs increase)

Blood glucoses are higher than 300

If symptoms of ketoacidosis occur (nausea, vomiting, "fruity" breath, stomach pain, dry flushed skin, frequent urination, fatigue, labored breathing, thirst, or confusion).

*any time your diabetes team and doctor have told you to check

Ketones are checked by emptying your bladder, drinking water and then waiting a few minutes to get a fresh sample. You should then urinate fresh urine into a small container or onto the ketone strip, shaking off excess urine, then wait the time interval that the strip instructions indicate. You then compare the color of the strip with the color code on the bottle and record the reading.

If test results are "small" or "mild" you should drink plenty of water, and retest in a couple of hours. If test results are moderate or large, it is a sign that ketoacidosis may be occurring. You should ALWAYS contact your healthcare provider/team if a moderate or large ketone reading occurs.

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