Ketones. The word is bursting out of celebrity mouths like popcorn as society embraces low-carbohydrate diets. Adherents believe that slipping into ketosis is a sign that they’re losing weight. 

However, there’s another, uglier side to ketones that’s rarely mentioned. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious health problem affecting people with diabetes. Sufferers check their ketone level in order to make sure they’re producing enough glucose. 

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Confusion about ketones is rampant. Ketosis and ketoacidosis are wildly different bodily processes but many people get them mixed up. Here’s what you need to know so that doesn’t happen to you. 

What are Ketones? 

Ketones, or ketone bodies, are compounds produced by the liver when breaking down fat. Normally, your body feeds itself on glucose but the supply can be crippled by your diet or a medical condition. To keep functioning, your body then turns to burning fat for fuel. 

When your body is relying on fat for energy and there’s no available glucose, ketones are produced. You’ll eventually slip into ketosis if the situation continues. If you’re a healthy person who just wants to lose a few pounds, this isn’t a big deal. Science isn’t convinced that being in ketosis really helps with weight loss, but millions of low-carb dieters sure are.

A rising ketone level IS a cause for concern for people with Type 1 diabetes, however. They need to carefully manage their glucose level or they could suffer from severe consequences. For someone with diabetes, a lot of ketones in their body could be a sign that they’re about to enter ketoacidosis. 

Diabetic Ketoacidosis Explained 

People with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin, the hormone that allows your body to make use of glucose. This means that their bodies are prone to creating too many ketones. When this happens their blood chemistry is thrown out of order and must be corrected immediately before terrible consequences ensue. 

Symptoms to watch out for:
You feel nauseous 
Your mouth is dry 
Your breath smells like fruit 
You’re confused
You’re exhausted 

If you have diabetes, you should NEVER ignore these symptoms. It’s possible that you’ll need to go to the hospital for an insulin injection. 

Diabetic Ketoacidosis vs. Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar State (HHS)

There are two types of diabetes and they’re each susceptible to their own problems. Ketoacidosis mainly affects people with Type 1 diabetes while those with Type 2 have to worry about the Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar State (HHS). 

Ketoacidosis shares symptoms with HHS although the latter complication typically causes extreme dehydration as well. Because Type 2 patients can develop ketoacidosis in rare cases, doctors must distinguish between the two conditions before they can begin treatment. 

Why Type 1 Diabetes Sufferers Should Test for Ketones

There’s a good chance that your doctor has already spoken to you about the benefits of regular ketone testing. You can prevent a lot of possible complications by noticing a problem early. If your body can’t create insulin on its own, your ketone level might surge until it’s out of control. 

If you test yourself regularly, you can make sure that you’re getting insulin injections when you need them. This will help your blood chemistry calm down. 

How Does Ketone Testing Work?

Ketone testing is an easy process. You can do it by yourself and see your results almost instantly. You simply purchase a ketone test strip and dip it in urine or blood. Urine tests are far more popular but they’re slightly limited. They can only test for the number of ketones in your urine. 

To figure out what your ketone level is either place the test strip in a urine-filled vessel or pee directly on the strip itself.

How to Read Your Results 

You can interpret your results by looking at what color the strip becomes, The darker the color, the more ketones that are in your system. 

You're not out of the woods unless your results are negative. A trace amount of ketones could be a sign that a buildup is occurring. You should check your level again later in the day to make sure that’s not happening. 

Set up a Regular Testing Schedule 

There’s evidence that people with Type 1 diabetes are far more lax about ketone testing than they should be. Ketoacidosis is an easily preventable complication yet it’s still extremely common. A lot of patients skip testing entirely, perhaps because they believe it’s unnecessary. 

You can buy testing strips at the drugstore but they come in small, cheap packages, forcing you to constantly replenish your supply. Nobody needs an extra hassle in their lives. Best Ketone Test (BKT) makes it easy. Purchase your testing strips in bulk and you’ll be set for a month or more. 

Once you have your strips handy, speak with your doctor and set up a testing schedule. Don’t allow a possible illness to run rampant.