A ketone test
ketones in your blood or urine. Ketones are substances
that are made when the body breaks down fat for energy. Normally, your body
gets the energy it needs from
carbohydrate in your diet. But stored fat is
broken down and ketones are made if your diet does not contain enough
carbohydrate to supply the body with sugar (glucose) for energy or if your body
can't use blood sugar (glucose) properly.
Some home blood sugar
meters can also measure ketone levels in the blood. Home
urine tests to measure ketones are available.
A blood test is the most accurate method
of measuring ketones. It is recommended for all people with
diabetes whenever symptoms of illness are present,
such as nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain. These symptoms often happen with high blood sugar and may mean you have
diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening
A urine test is the most commonly used method of
measuring ketones. But it is less accurate than a blood test. A urine test may be done
No special preparation is needed before
having this test.
Talk to your doctor about any
concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be
done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance
of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
The health professional taking a sample
of your blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein
in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel
tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick
sting or pinch.
There is normally no discomfort
involved with collecting a urine sample.
There is very little risk of a problem
from having blood drawn from a vein.
There are no risks associated with
collecting a urine sample.
A ketone test checks for substances made
when the body breaks down fat for energy (ketones).
There are no ketones in your blood or
Ketones are present in your blood or
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.
You may have ketones in your urine if
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.
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Your doctor may recommend you test for ketones if you have
diabetes and you have any of the following conditions:
Other Works ConsultedFischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
July 5, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
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