What does it mean to have a trace of ketones in urine?
Ketones are the body’s product when it turns to use fat as an energy source. Normally, the human body utilizes sugar or glucose as its main source of energy. The burning of fats and the production of ketones begin when not enough glucose is consumed or introduced into the system.
The presence of ketones in the urine is normally checked by healthcare professionals to determine if the patient has type1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. While people with type 1 diabetes are the ones who commonly have ketones in their urine, patients may type 2 diabetes may also have ketones in their urine as their body struggles to convert sugar into energy from the blood.
The said struggle for sugar conversion into energy can lead to increased blood sugar levels also known as hyperglycemia. This dangerous health condition can lead to other serious illnesses such as nerve damage, problems with eyesight, stroke, and heart or cardiovascular diseases.
Reasons for a High Trace of Ketones in Urine
As mentioned earlier, people with diabetes may have a number of reasons that may result in high levels of ketones in the urine. These can be caused by receiving insulin that is spoiled, getting inadequate amounts of insulin, using an insulin pump that is ineffective, an insulin shot that is missed, any other form of illness, and when diabetic patients either miss a meal or have not eaten enough food.
Other factors that may result in high levels of ketones in the urine include baby nursing with inadequate nutritional intake, hyperthyroidism, burns, sepsis or blood infection, fever that is high, fasting, stroke, heart attack, infection, alcoholism or alcohol abuse, pneumonia, observing a diet that is low carb, chronic diarrhea or vomiting, exercise that is strenuous, eating disorders, and pregnancy.
How to Test for Ketones in the Urine
Urine ketone testing may be conducted in the laboratory or at home. Individuals are sometimes asked to go on a complete fast a few hours before the ketone urine test. When testing is done in the laboratory, individuals are required to wash their genital area and hands using a pad that is sterile. They are then asked to collect their urine and place it in a container for the healthcare professional for further testing.
Urine test strips may also be used for ketone urine testing at home. Urine can be placed in a container that is clean and the ketone urine strip dipped into the aforementioned container. Another option can also have the patient urinate directly into the urine test strip. Once done, the patient may follow the instructions on the label.
Urine ketone test strips may be purchased over the counter (OTC) and do not require any prescription. The tests of the ketone urine strips may be different or may vary depending on a number of variables. These factors include health history, gender, age, and other health factors.
When Is It Appropriate to Have Urine Ketone Testing?
For people with diabetes or those with any other health condition that may result in the presence of ketones in the urine, the doctor may recommend having their urine tested for ketones within four (4) to six (6) hours especially if the following conditions are observed:
- Breath that is fruity smelling
- Flushed skin
- Constant thirst or a mouth that is dry
- fatigue that is constant
- Cold, flu or other illnesses
- abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased levels of blood glucose
What Do Tests Results Mean?
For small amounts of ketones pegged at around 20 mg/dl, ketones in the urine can be normal particularly for people who are aiming for weight loss. For moderate to large results ranging from 30 mg/dl to greater than 80 mg/dl, patients are advised to seek medical advice from their healthcare partner immediately. Exercise should also be avoided when high levels of ketones are identified as this can make any related condition worse. The patient’s doctor may order other relevant medical tests such as acid level or pH, protein, and blood glucose.
When Can Ketoacidosis Be Determined?
Increased levels of ketones found in the urine can be a sign of DKA or diabetic ketoacidosis which is a diabetic complication that is severe. DKA or Diabetic ketoacidosis is one of the first symptom that a patient has diabetes. If the patient becomes ill and is a diabetic, the person can experience a spike in his or her ketone levels resulting in ketoacidosis. The other symptoms of ketoacidosis are unconsciousness, sleepiness, confusion, abdominal pain, flushed skin, breath that is fruity smelling, a thirst that is unusual, vomiting, nausea, and breathing problems.
It is important that people check with their doctor on how to properly monitor their ketone levels and how to avoid the medical condition known as ketoacidosis or DKA when one has an illness or is sick. This is because if left untreated, DKA can lead to other more serious problems such as diabetic coma and subsequently death. Diabetic coma happens when a patient’s uncontrolled diabetes manifesting itself as either hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) results in unconsciousness for the individual. Some of the diabetic coma’s warning signs include shaking, sweating, and unexplained hunger.