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Diabetes Health Center

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You usually compare the color of the test strip or urine to a chart to find out if ketones are present.

High values

You may have ketones if you:

  • Have poorly controlled diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Are on a very low-carbohydrate or high-fat diet.
  • Are starving or have an eating disorder, including disorders that result in poor nutrition such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, alcoholism, or poisoning from drinking rubbing alcohol (isopropanol).
  • Have not eaten (fasted) for 18 hours or longer.
  • Are pregnant. Some women have low levels of ketones during pregnancy and this does not affect the fetus. But a moderate or high amount of ketones in a pregnant woman may harm the fetus and may be an indication of gestational diabetes.

The level of ketones, and not just the presence of ketones, may be important to your doctor as well. Many conditions can change ketone levels. Fasting usually causes only mild increases in the level. But ketone levels in diabetic ketoacidosis are much higher. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Taking medicines, such as:
  • Waiting a long time after collecting the urine to test it.

What To Think About

Your doctor may recommend you test for ketones if you have diabetes and you have any of the following conditions:

  • You have a blood sugar level that stays higher than the level the doctor has set for you, for example, 300 mg/dL (16.7 mmol/L) for two or more readings.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You are sick or feeling very stressed.
  • You have symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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