At times the body may make chemical substances called ketones. These are derived from fat, which is an important source of energy for the body but which also requires insulin. If the fats are not burnt up properly they produce ketones which are a kind of toxic by-product from the inefficient burning up of fat.

Ketones may be made in large amounts when diabetes is untreated or if there is insufficient insulin. They may also occur during illness and vomiting when the insulin may not work properly. Occasionally ketones may develop when not enough carbohydrate is eaten and the body is forced to burn up fat.

When ketones are formed in large amounts they circulate in the blood and spill out in the urine. There they can be detected. They may also be smelt on the breath.

Ketones should be tested during illness

It is important to test urine for ketones when your child’s blood glucose levels are very high during illness. It is particularly important to test during a vomiting illness. Ketones may themselves make the child feel ill and vomit.

There are two common tests for ketones in urine: Ketostix and Ketur-Test. Both work on the same principle as the urine glucose tests, using a plastic strip with a reagent block at one end. When the strip is dipped in urine, a purple colour develops if ketones are present.

Some tests have glucose and ketones on the same stick

It is often helpful to be able to test glucose and ketones at the same time. These tests are Ketodiastix which is a combination of Ketostix and Diastix, and the Keto-Diabur-Test 5000 which is a combination of Ketur-test and Diabur test-500.

The tests on each of these are just the same as the two tests that are present on the strip and are read in the same way.

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