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Urine Test for Ketones - Topic Overview

Ketones are substances that are made when the body breaks down fat for energy. Normally, your body gets the energy it needs from glucose (sugar). If your body cannot use glucose for energy—for example, if your body doesn't make or use insulin—ketones are formed. You might also have ketones if you are not eating enough carbohydrates and your body uses fat for energy instead. Your body wants to get rid of ketones through urine.

Ketones in urine is most common in people who have type 1 diabetes. It is an early sign that there is not enough insulin, and blood sugar may be dangerously high. This can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a very serious medical problem.

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You can test your urine for ketones at home using specially prepared tablets or plastic strips.

  • Collect a urine sample in a clean container.
  • Follow the manufacturer's directions on the bottle of test strips or tablets.
  • If either the test strip or the urine changes color when the tablet is dropped into the sample, ketones are present in your urine sample. The test results are read as negative to 1+ to 4+ or small to large. If the results of your ketone test show that the ketone level in your urine is more than 2+, or moderate, call your doctor for advice.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 17, 2012
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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