Ketones in Urine

Ketones in urine, as the name indicates, is a medical irregularity in which ketone particles are detected in urine. The condition is technically referred to as Ketonuria. The condition generally indicates augmented blood ketone level. Ketones are produced by metabolism of cells for energy. The condition can prove to be dangerous if the level of ketones becomes extremely high and consistent monitoring may be needed, especially in people with diabetes. Insufficient insulin in the body may also lead to increased amount of ketones in the body. Excessive  production of these particles is  a general reaction to glucose depletion. This is why people with diabetes type-1 are at increased risk of suffering from Ketonuria. Generally there is insignificant or no amount of ketone particles in the body;  but certain condition may cause its level to increase.

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Ketones production

Ketones are product of metabolism of fatty acids. In healthy individuals production of ketones takes place in the liver. Usually almost entire amount of produced ketones are metabolized and an insignificant amount reaches to urine. When carbohydrate is not available or cannot be used for energy, body uses fats for production of energy causing production of ketones as byproducts of metabolism. This means increased ketone level in urine may also indicate use of fats as source of energy by the body. When fats are burned to produce energy there are two kinds of ketone product that appear in urine which are beta-hydroxybutyric acid and acetoacetate. Acetone is another ketone body which gets produced during the process but is eliminated by lungs.

Ketones in urine – causes

Ketones production occurs when fats are burned to supply necessary energy to body. This may occur when these is lack of insulin to help with sugar absorption for energy generation or in case of weight loss. Insufficient energy biologically leads to glucose built-up in the blood. Body cannot utilize this glucose which is why it begins to break fats. This occurrence causes development of ketone in blood which passes-through to urine. The kidney processes ketones and eliminates into the urine to avoid ketones acidifying responses in blood. Such consequences can make you extremely ill. Urinalysis is a diagnosing technique which can help in understanding ketone level in the body. General idea of just presence of ketones in urine can be obtained from basic urinalysis tests.

Anomalously increased level of ketones can cause extreme sickness. It may also lead to serious conditions such as ketoacidosis. These conditions can be avoided by undergoing diagnoses. In patients if the blood sugar level is more than 14 mmol/L then going for ketone in urine test is wise to determine chances of and avoid conditions such as ketoacidosis.

ketones in urine

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Ketones in urine –  symptoms

There are certain symptoms of ketonuria. These symptoms often include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Nausea
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Heavy breathing and other respiratory difficulties
  • Dehydration
  • Fruity breath smell
  • Confusion
  • Dilation of pupils


Normally urine does not have considerable amount of ketone bodies which to indicate positive diagnosis. Acetone level of blood can be diagnosed with dip-stick techniques. Small amount of acetone is 20mg/dl while moderate level of ketone would give a reading of 30-40 mg/dl. Any reading that is equal to or above 80 md/dl is considered as high level of ketones in urine. Urinalysis is the primary test suggest for diagnosing the condition. The test is done on clean catch sample of urine. This means that the head of the penile shaft in men and vaginal (cavity) area in women should be cleaned before taking the sample. Some amount of urine should be allowed to pass-out before collecting the specimen. This will allow the contamination to not enter the urine sample.

Basic urinalysis is done on the provided specimen which is usually enough to determine presence of ketones in the urine. A chemically treated dipstick is used to perform the test. The test is a spot test which provides instant results. The stick is dipped in provided sample and observed for any color chances. If the color changes, it indicates ketones in urine.

Home based tests for ketones in urine  

Presence of ketones in urine can be tested at home as well. For this you can obtain readily available testing products from medical shop. You may get dipsticks for urine test against ketones at your nearest pharmacy without prescription. These tests are often user friendly. The result may not show exact count of ketone body in your urine but may indicate the presence of ketones and severity of the condition. The result may range from negative then small to severe. If you are tested positive for Ketonuria then consult a doctor immediately. Such urine tests at home are beneficial as it saves you a lot of money as you may have to undergo tests regularly to tract the condition. If the level of glucose in blood is higher and you are tested positive for Ketonuria then it may indicate a serious condition. Hence, if the test is performed at home consult a doctor immediately.


Ketones in urine treatment will depend on the cause of the condition. For example, if the condition arises due to starvation then get back to healthy diet which may reduce ketone level in urine. In case if Ketonuria is associated with diabetes then consulting doctor will help in determining a proper treatment. Usually increasing insulin dosage is primary suggestion of doctors.

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