Ketones in Urine

Ketones are substances that are manufactured at the time of fat metabolism and normally not found in urine. Deficient intake of carbohydrates during starvation or engaging in high protein diets can result in ketones in urine.  Additionally, when an individual’s body is unable to properly use the carbohydrates, then also it can cause ketones in urine. When sufficient quantities of carbohydrates are not available, then the body metabolizes fat to be able to get the energy that is necessary for its effective functioning. Such a process involves the production of ketones as a byproduct. Urine generally does not contain any ketone content. However, the abnormal ketones content in urine can range from 0 to 160 mg/dl.

Symptoms of ketones in urine

  • For an individual suffering from diabetes: When ketones in urine are detected in a diabetic patient, then it signifies that there is a deficient flow of insulin. People with diabetes who have the below listed symptoms should visit a doctor for detection of ketones in urine.
    • Presence of the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis or high blood sugar, such as nausea
    • Increased levels of blood glucose levels, i.e. 300 mg/dL or higher
    • Pain in the abdomen
    • Vomiting
    • Feeling sick or increasingly stressed
    • Are pregnant

Ketones in urine during pregnancy

When ketones in urine are detected by a woman who is pregnant, then it signifies the presence of gestational diabetes which can be detrimental for the fetus. A woman will normally experience the symptoms of vomiting, and nausea at the time of pregnancy and hence mild quantities of ketones in urine is considered as normal. However, excessive amounts of ketones in urine during pregnancy, is harmful and should be corrected by a doctor.

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Ketones in urine – causes

There are many risk factors which can increase the vulnerability to developing ketones in urine. They include:

  • Fasting or starvation which entails abstinence from the intake of food for eighteen hours or longer
  • When the body uses fats instead of carbohydrates to produce energy
  • Stringent dieting
  • Intake of a high fat diet or a low carbohydrates diet
  • Extreme exercising
  • The presence of eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa which results in poor nutrition
  • Alcohol abuse or poisoning due to consumption of rubbing alcohol or isopropanol
  • Frequent vomiting or nausea which leads to excessive loss of carbohydrates
  • Increased exposure to cold
  • Deficient consumption of food
  • Badly regulated diabetes or presence of diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Overdose of insulin
  • Intense fever due to infections

It may be noted that ketones are acidic and can be dangerous for the body when they are permitted to accumulate. Individuals who engage in fasting will notice the levels of ketones in urine to rise first, after which the levels of ketones in the blood will also increase.

Testing for ketones in urine

Testing for the presence of ketones in urine is quite different from the usual urine sugar tests. Therefore, individuals can visit a doctor or use the various ketone sticks that can be found in the markets and which are specially designed for ketone level testing. In order to get the best results, one should always take the first morning sample of urine to test for ketones in urine. This is because most individuals do not eat during the night as they are sleeping and this results in a rapid decrease in the levels of blood sugar, which then causes the body to look for fat stores to make energy. This can then cause the presence of ketones in urine.

Treatment and prevention of ketones in urine

  • When ketones in urine are diagnosed via different tests, then a doctor will investigate and find out the cause of the issue. The underlying cause is then according treated to normalize the levels of ketones in urine.
  • Diabetic patients and pregnant women are more susceptible to adverse effects of ketones in urine. Hence, the presence of excessive amounts of ketones in urine in these individuals may require treatment via hospitalization
  • It is essential to consult a doctor to know about the ways of preventing ketones in urine. However in general, one can prevent the presence of ketones in urine by not maintaining long gaps between two meals and avoiding the skipping of meals.
  • Pregnant women should engage in consumption of meals every three to four hours.
  • One can also indulge in a good snack that is full of starch and proteins, before bedtime. This is quite beneficial as the absorption of carbohydrates by the body is slowed down by proteins. This allows energy to remain for longer periods of time in the body.
  • It is also important to avoid sleeping for longer than nine to ten hours. However, if one does sleep for longer periods, then it is essential that they get up for a quick snack and then go back to sleep. This will then lower the risk to developing ketones in urine.


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