Health Sabz

Ketone Bodies: What You Need to Know

Primarily, the human body consumes glucose for energy. If there is low glucose in the body, or in the case of diabetes, insulin is not adequate to help the body absorb glucose.

This situation breakdowns fat cells for the energy. The ketone bodies in urine are the byproduct of fat break down.

The breakdown of fat for energy is normal and in healthy persons, glucagon, insulin, and other hormones stop high level of ketone in the blood. But, people with diabetes are at high risk of the presence of ketonic bodies in the blood.

 If this situation is not cured timely, type 1 diabetes patients enter into a state called Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

This is a rare disease and patients with type 2 diabetes can also experience a similar situation under some circumstances.

The production of ketone bodies is ketogenesis and it occurs in smaller amounts.    

The high consumption of fat and cut on carbohydrates creates Ketogenic pathways in the liver. This declines the plasma glucose concentration and plasma fatty acids increase. Hence, ketone bodies in urine appear.

Symptoms of Ketone bodies when building up in body

Ketogenic diet creates ways to step into ketosis.  In case, if too many ketones develop into a body, it can cause:

  • Greater sugar level than 240 mg/dL
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Severe thirst

Such phenomenon may result in discomforts, keto flu, and headaches.

In the case of diabetes, if a cure is not made, these symptoms get the severe form as:

  • Flushed skin
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Trouble breathing, and
  • Stomach pain

High level of ketone bodies in blood lowers the pH level of the body to a severe acidic level that is Ketoacidosis.

Ketone Bodies as Fuel

The ketone bodies act as fuel for the human body.

  • They are water soluble
  • Capable to transport across the mitochondrial membrane as well as the cell membrane and blood-brain barrier
  • Serve as a major source of energy (75%) for the brain during fasting/starvation
  • They are transported from liver to all another body as energy units
  • Provide energy to heart tissues

How to Test Ketone Bodies

The presence of these bodies in blood or urine can be confirmed by doing home tests. A urine test is common and available at different drugstores without a prescription. You can also get them online.

Blood test for ketones should proceed if you experience:

  • Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
  • Blood sugar is greater than 240 mg/dL
  • Feeling nausea, and sick

Use of urine strips can ensure the presence of ketonic bodies since the strips contain chemicals that change color upon reaction. The color chart is useful to interpret the results and if ketone bodies are present in urine, this state is ketonuria.

High Ketone Levels

If ketones are too high in blood, it can make blood acidic. The acidic blood can result in Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Its serious impacts are:

  • Diabetic coma
  • Brain swelling
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

It is essential to see the physician if ketone levels become high.

How to Treat High Ketone Level

If you stand up to treat high ketone level, work with a doctor to manage the medium ketone level. Medical treatment should only pursue if symptoms are severe and levels continue to rise. The treatments are:

 Electrolyte replacement

The common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and chloride. In case of Diabetic Ketoacidosis, electrolytes level declines. If a large number of electrolytes lost, the heart and muscles cannot function properly.

Intravenous Fluid Replacement

The Diabetic Ketoacidosis yield frequent urination that results into loss of fluid. Intravenous fluids can rehydrate the body and it will help to dilute extra glucose level into the blood.


In some emergency cases, the intravenous fluid contains insulin that is used to improve the body ability to absorb excessive glucose in the blood. It involves hourly testing of glucose.

When blood acid level and ketone level return to normal position, intravenous insulin is not required.

Additionally, stomach pain may results in vomiting, in the case of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. It is useful to consult a doctor for such a case.

High ketone level in the body needs effective management. This needs checking blood sugar level on regular basis.

It needs to focus on fluctuating sugar levels or sugar level when you are sick.

Following a healthy diet, managing insulin and carbohydrate intake is effective in diabetes. If it is not easy to manage diet, consult your dietitian.

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