What Is Ketonuria?

What Is Ketonuria?

Diabetes has a number of potential complications that it can cause. Some of these complications are more serious than others. One of the complications that we want to focus on in this particular article is ketonuria. The occurrence can sometimes lead to serious complications, but there are effective treatment options available. Additionally, certain preventative measures can also be taken to further reduce the risks you face for ketonuria. 

Overview Of Ketonuria

Ketones are acids that are naturally present in the human body. The body naturally produces ketones in response to a change in energy production. Normally, your body uses carbohydrates, broken down into glucose, in order to generate energy. Your cells then use the glucose, with the help of insulin, to create energy and continue functioning as they should. When ketones are produced, there is an insufficient amount of carbs or glucose in your blood. In this event, your body starts to convert protein and fat into ketones, which the body then uses to generate energy instead. 

While the process of creating ketones from proteins and fats is normal, sometimes it becomes too active. This can cause an excessive amount of ketones to be present in your blood. 

While there are several cases where Ketonuria develops, a majority of these occur in people who have diabetes. It is especially common in people who have type 1 diabetes, a type of diabetes that is caused by an autoimmune reaction. 

Among individuals with diabetes, low insulin levels are a common reason for ketonuria to occur. It is important to note that ketonuria refers to excess ketones in urine, but this can have certain effects on the body as well. In people with low insulin levels, ketonuria can occur when the body is unable to fully utilize the glucose and sugars that the person consumes through their diet. This causes the body to start burning fat and converting protein to ketones. 

Symptoms To Look Out For

When ketonuria occurs, it can sometimes signal the development of a condition known as ketoacidosis. This condition happens when there are too many ketones circulating in the bloodstream. There are certain symptoms that can occur when you develop ketoacidosis. Note that ketonuria alone may not cause symptoms before it starts to cause ketoacidosis. 

Some of the signs that you should be aware of include:

  • Your urination frequency increases
  • Your breath may have a fruity smell
  • You feel thirsty all the time
  • Your mouth may be dry
  • Fatigue is also a common symptom
  • Nausea can occur and sometimes lead to vomiting
  • Some people also find that they feel confused or have problems focusing

How Is Ketonuria Diagnosed?

Some people with the symptoms associated with ketoacidosis may decide to get a home test that they can perform. This can help them identify ketonuria, a high amount of ketones in their urine. A urine test is the first step to diagnosing ketonuria and looking out for the potential complications that it may cause. 

The doctor may also perform a few other tests to determine whether ketonuria may be associated with a complication. This may include an electrolyte test and they may take your current blood glucose levels. 

Ketone levels in your blood circulatory system are usually the next test that your doctor will perform. In order to cancel out other causes, apart from diabetes, your doctor may also order the following tests:

  • A blood culture to assist in detecting an infection
  • A complete blood count test
  • An x-ray and CT scan 
  • A drug screening

It is generally advised to contact a healthcare provider when urine ketone levels are higher than 1.6 millimoles per liter. If it rises above 3.0 millimoles per liter, then you should visit the emergency department. 

What Are The Treatment Options?

There are certain treatment options that you can consider in order to prevent complications associated with ketonuria. You may be advised to regularly test your urine ketone levels in order to notice a further increase. This is generally the case if the ketone levels in your urine are not too high. 

In cases where the ketone bodies are more prevalent in your urine, then there are treatments that need to be implemented. The treatments are generally similar to those provided to a patient when they have diabetic ketoacidosis. 

A fast-acting insulin is often one of the initial treatments that are provided. The insulin provided will help your body start to utilize more of the glucose that is circulating in your bloodstream. This can help to reduce the production of ketones in your body. 

When ketonuria is a sign of ketoacidosis, a healthcare provider may notice signs of dehydration. In this event, IV fluids are usually provided to the patient. Certain electrolytes can be given as well, which can be helpful with dehydration and in cases where the individual has an electrolyte imbalance. 

Can Ketonuria Be Prevented?

There are certain strategies that you can use to reduce the risk you face of developing ketonuria and complications like ketoacidosis. The most important step to take is to ensure you effectively manage your diabetes. When your pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin hormones, then you should speak to your doctor about the use of insulin medication. 

You should also work with your healthcare provider to ensure you are able to develop a highly effective diabetes treatment plan. The plan should include the right changes to your diet and exercise program to ensure you are able to better manage glucose levels. 

Regularly checking your urine ketone levels, especially if you have type 1 diabetes, is another important step that you can take. Make sure you keep your ketone bodies within the appropriate range. This can help to ensure you are able to detect changes that may indicate a problem with your diabetes. 


Ketonuria can lead to dehydration and ketoacidosis as complications. It can also harm an unborn baby during pregnancy. This is why it is so important to ensure you implement appropriate countermeasures and educate yourself about the potential symptoms that could signal the presence of ketonuria. It is also important to ensure an early diagnosis to prevent complications and to treat the condition with greater efficacy. 

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