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What are Ketones?
Ketones are chemicals produced in your liver when you don't have enough insulin in your body to convert glucose into energy. Your liver turns fat into ketones and sends them into your bloodstream so your muscles and tissues can use them as energy. Ketone testing provides an insight into your body's metabolic process.
Why Test Ketone Levels?
Building up too many ketones in your blood when you have diabetes could be an early sign of the possible development of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). If left untreated, DKA can quickly become life-threatening.
Check out these facts about Diabetic Ketoacidosis:
- Annual incidence rate for DKA is 8-13 episodes per 1,000 patients with up to a 10% mortality rate
- 90% of DKA episodes occur in people previously diagnosed with diabetes. Most, if not all, of these episodes are preventable
- DKA is the #1 cause of mortality in children with diabetes, accounting for 50% of such deaths
- DKA is the leading cause of fetal loss in diabetic pregnancies
- DKA represents 25% of direct medical care costs for adult Type 1 Diabetics
New SGLT2 drugs for type 2 diabetes may lead to hospitalization
Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are a new, fast-growing class of oral anti-diabetic drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They inhibit glucose re-absorption in the kidneys providing an insulin independent mechanism to lower blood glucose for people with T2 diabetes. They include the brand names Invokana and Invokamet, Farxiga and Xigduo, Jardiance and GlyXambi. A May, 2015 FDA Drug Safety Communication warns that the use of drugs with SGLT2 can lead to the development of ketoacidosis and DKA requiring hospitalization.
Know the Signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis
You may think your symptoms are a result of being sick but don't ignore these signs that may indicate DKA:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Dry mouth
- Labored breathing
- Fruity breath
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dry, flushed skin
These symptoms may lead to:
If you notice any symptoms of acidosis in yourself or a loved one with diabetes, seek immediate medical help because blood glucose and ketone levels may be high.
When to Measure Ketones
Measuring ketones is simple! The ketones in your blood can be measured with a meter and test strips. We'll get into more details about how to test in the next paragraph. The American Diabetes Association advises you to test blood ketones when:
- you feel sick
- you are stressed
- your blood glucose is greater than 250mg/dl and you plan on exercising
- your blood glucose is elevated for more than a couple hours and you are nauseous/vomiting (insulin pump users)
- you wake up each morning if you are pregnant
Measuring Your Ketone Levels
If you have used a blood glucose monitor in the past, then you already know how to measure ketone levels! All you need is a ketone meter and ketone test strips. We know what you're thinking, "So now I need a separate meter to test my ketones and glucose?". If that's your thing, then yes. But we like to keep things simple like the Nova Max Plus Meter. It reads both glucose and ketone levels using the appropriate test strips. Take a look at the three easy steps to use a Nova Max Plus Meter:
Have something to share about ketone testing from your experience? Share it with us and the community!