Diabetes and Urine Tests
Urine Testing For Severe Hyperglycemia
Sometimes, your health care provider may perform a urine test if your blood sugar is dangerously high to see if you are producing substances called ketones. Ketones are the by-product of the fat burning process that occurs in the absence of insulin. When a person with diabetes develops hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, if there is not enough insulin around (type 1 diabetes) or if their body is unable to utilize the insulin properly (type 2 diabetes) and break down sugar, the body turns to fat stores to create energy for the cells. While ketones can be a source of energy for many cells, they can be toxic in large amounts and cause a life-threatening emergency condition called ketoacidosis.
Ketone levels can be measured in the urine by your doctor or by using an over-the-counter kit at home.
How Do I Test for Ketones?
Testing for ketones involves dipping a test strip into your urine. The test strip changes color and is then compared to a color chart.
When Should I Test for Ketones?
If you have type 1 diabetes, you may need to check your urine for ketones if:
- You feel sick (have a cold, the flu, or other illness) and have nausea or vomiting.
- You are pregnant.
- Your blood sugar level is high (usually over 300 milligrams per deciliter or mg/dL) or as directed by your doctor.
- You have symptoms of high blood sugar including extreme thirst or tiredness, a flushed or foggy feeling, or your breath smells fruity.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you have a very low chance of developing ketoacidosis, even if you are on insulin therapy. However, during severe illnesses, it is possible that ketoacidosis may develop.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor may advise you to check your urine for ketones when:
- You feel severely sick (have a cold, the flu, or other illness) and/or have unexplained nausea or vomiting
- Your blood sugar level is high (over 300 milligrams per deciliter or mg/dL, or as directed by your doctor) and continues to rise throughout the day.