The body breaks down fat to make ketones. Too many ketones can be toxic. They make the blood more acidic.

The body’s main source of energy is glucose. But, the body needs insulin for glucose to enter cells. If you have diabetes and your insulin levels are low, your body cells might be unable to use glucose for energy. If this happens, your body can start breaking down fats for energy instead.

When it does this, it produces ketones, also known as ketone bodies. If you have high ketone levels, you’re at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be life threatening.

Everyone is familiar with the process of fat breakdown and creation of ketones.

In a person without diabetes, insulin, glucagon, and other hormones prevent ketone levels in the blood from getting too high by collecting a steady and stable stream of useable glucose.

People with diabetes are at risk for having a build up of ketone in their blood.

When the body begins to break down fatty acids into ketones, it enters a metabolic state known as ketosis.

If left untreated, people with type 1 diabetes are at risk for developing DKA. While rare, it’s possible for people with type 2 diabetes to experience DKA in certain circumstances as well.

Symptoms, signs and more are included in the description of ketosis.

If you have diabetes, you need to be aware of the symptoms that can come with high ketone levels. These include:

“The symptoms can progress if you don’t get treatment.”

If your ketone levels are high, you should seek medical attention.

Testing your blood or urine to measure your ketone levels is fairly simple and cheap. At-home kits are available for both types of tests, although urine tests are more common. Urine ketone tests are available without a prescription at most drugstores, or you can buy them online.

One of the ketone byproducts of the breakdown of fat is acetone. These machines are more expensive and less accurate than other options for testing blood and urine.

“You can perform a urine test by urinating into a container and dipping the test strip into the urine. A parent can usually use a stick to test for ketones in a child who isn’t potty trained.”

Urine testing strips contain chemicals that change colors when they react with ketones. You can interpret the test results by comparing the test strip to the color chart on the package. The excretion of ketones in your urine is called ketonuria.

“There is an at- home meter that can be used to test for blood ketones. This is similar to a finger-stick test. You place a small drop of blood on the machine’s testing area by using a needle to pierce your finger.”

When to test for ketones

People with diabetes should have their urine or blood tested for ketones.

  • Your blood sugar is higher than the average.
  • You have symptoms of DKA.
  • You feel sick or nauseated even if you have a blood sugar reading.

Your doctor may recommend regular testing for you even if you are not feeling well.

High ketone levels should be detectable at any time of day. But for the most accurate results, research has shown that testing either early in the morning or a few hours after dinner may be your best shot.

Results for ketone testing are labeled in the following way.

normal/negative less than 0.6 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
low to moderate 0.6 to 1.5 mmol/L
high 1.6 to 3.0 mmol/L
very high greater than 3.0 mmol/L

If your ketone levels are high, you should call your doctor and seek emergency medical attention.

Your blood can be acidic. Acidic blood can cause diseases. The most serious effects of DKA are listed.

It is important for people with high ketone levels to have a plan of action in case their levels get too high.

Learn more about alcoholism.

If you have high ketone levels, you can be hospitalized for DKA.

If you want to manage moderate levels of ketone, you need to work with your doctor.

“If you can’t treat at home or if your levels continue to rise, you will need to get medical treatment. Treatments can include:”

Intravenous (IV) fluid replacement

Increased urination is a symptom of the disease. Dehydration can help to reduce the amount of blood sugar in your body.

Electrolyte replacement

When a person has DKA, their electrolyte levels tend to be low. Examples of electrolytes include potassium, sodium, and chloride. If a person loses too much of these electrolytes, their heart and muscles can’t function as well.


In an emergency situation, people are usually given an IV to improve their ability to process excess blood sugar into energy. Testing the levels of the blood sugar on an hourly basis is what this involves.

When your blood acid level is normal, you may be able to resume your normal regimen of therapy.

An underlying illness can cause a condition called DKA, such as an illness that causes vomiting and loss of fluids. Treatments for the underlying illness may be prescribed by your doctor.

High ketone levels can be prevented by careful management of diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels healthy by following the following instructions.

Check blood sugar levels regularly

Your doctor will recommend a routine for checking your blood sugar levels, but you should check your levels at least 4 to 6 times per day. You should check your blood sugar more often.

  • Your blood sugar levels are going up.
  • You are having symptoms of high or low blood sugar.
  • You are sick.

Follow a balanced diet plan

Managing your carbohydrate intake and insulin dosage is vital for managing diabetes. Be sure to talk with a registered dietitian if you need help managing your diet.

Create a plan for moderate ketone levels

Sometimes moderate levels of ketone can be treated. A doctor can help you create a plan for when your ketone levels get too high, such as administering additionalinsulin and drinking more water. You should have a sick-day plan in place.

Always keep ketone testing kits available

You should keep ketone testing kits with you at home and on your travels so that you can check your levels quickly.

Work closely with a diabetes educator and your doctor

Your eating plan and your diabetes regimen are monitored constantly. The combination of medication and diabetes works best for someone.

If you are concerned about your ketone levels spiking frequently, talk to your doctor.