Ketones (also called ketone bodies) are substances produced by
the body as it breaks down fats for energy, a process called ketosis.
Normally the body obtains the energy it needs from sugars
(carbohydrates). A person may begin to break down fats and produce ketones
Having too little insulin, which prevents the body from using sugar for energy, causing it
to break down fat instead.
Prolonged vomiting or
A diet that is low in sugars and starches
Ketone testing can be done anytime using a urine test strip or a blood sugar meter that tests for ketones. If ketone
levels are very high or if the person is dehydrated, ketones may begin to build
up in the blood. High blood levels of ketones may cause fruity-smelling breath,
loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, and fast, deep breathing. In severe
cases, it may lead to coma and death. In a pregnant woman, even a moderate
amount of ketones in her blood may harm the fetus.
of ketones may signal diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that is caused by very high blood
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator