Ketones in urine play a crucial role in diabetes, and test strips provide information about the metabolic activity. If high ketone bodies are in the urine, it is called ketonuria.
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About Ketones In Urine
An increased number of ketones in the urine is due to a disturbance in carbohydrate metabolism and the resulting glycogen deficiency of the liver.
The body produces insufficient insulin, which causes it to turn to fat cells to meet its energy needs. It releases fatty acids, which the organism excretes in the urine as ketone bodies.
Healthy people temporarily develop ketonuria during pregnancy, fasting, infection, injury, surgery, and metabolic disorders. It also signals diabetes mellitus.
If the patient is impacted by this disease and develops ketonuria, it is life-threatening.
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What Is Behind The Ketones In The Urine?
Ketones are metabolic products that occur naturally in the body in a certain amount. However, in particular life situations or diseases such as diabetes, the metabolism can get so far out of kilter that too many ketone bodies are formed, which can then be measured in the urine.
- The most important compounds that play a role in ketone bodies include acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
- These ketone bodies are formed in metabolism when fats rather than glucose (sugar) are used for energy production.
- The ketone bodies acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate can then be further used in the metabolism to provide energy. This does not apply to acetone, which must be excreted via the kidney or breath.
- If the ketone bodies elevates to a high degree, this can lead to dangerous ketoacidosis. This is often already recognizable via the breath, which smells strongly “acetone-like.”
- Other symptoms that can occur with such an excessive ketone body load are Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, severe fatigue, impaired consciousness, intense thirst, and frequent urination.
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When ketonuria occurs?
Several causes can play a role in increased levels of ketones in the urine. The measurement of the ketone body level is always only a first step, followed by a medical analysis of the specific clinical picture by your doctor.
- An elevated ketone body level in the urine is often detectable if a previously unrecognized or poorly controlled diabetes is present. It is precisely then that glucose metabolism disturbutes so that energy from fats is required.
- Increased metabolic activity or a so-called ‘catabolic metabolism,’ in which body substance is in use for energy production, can also be a reason for ketones detectable in the urine.
- This is the case, for example, with extreme physical strain on an untrained body and with high persistent fever.
- Fasting cures and significantly reduced food intake or excluding carbohydrates in the diet are explicitly built on increasing ketones. This is referred to as a ketogenic diet.
- Increased ketones can also occur in frequent vomiting, in alcoholics with existing gastrointestinal tract complaints, or pregnancy vomiting.
- Because a strongly elevated ketone body level in the blood is dangerous, ketones were long considered fundamentally hazardous from a medical point of view.
- There is a increase in evidence that a moderate increase in ketones is even considered positive in recent years, as reported by experts. You can tell from this, for example, whether your metabolism is changing in the desired direction when you are dieting.
How are ketones determined in urine?
Indeed, you have already had ketones measured in your urine – even if entirely unnoticed. This is because the urine examination at the doctors usually includes this analysis. If you want to have a test explicitly, ask your doctor.
- Usually, the healthy adult forms 3-15 milligrams per day. In the blood, a concentration of fewer than five millimoles/liter is normal. In urine, the average value in the morning urine is below 50 milligrams per liter.
- You can get test strips for measuring ketones in urine at the pharmacy or online. People with diabetes use these test strips by their doctors to monitor their metabolism.
- To measure ketones in urine, collect the urine in a clean container and hold the test strip in the liquid for a few seconds. After waiting another 15 seconds or so, the color patches on the strip change color. Using a scale on the test strip container, evaluate the ketone body content of your urine.
- If you measure a sharp increase in ketones in your urine, seek medical advice from your family doctor.
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Ketones in the urine can have harmless causes such as physical overexertion, a pronounced state of hunger, or pregnancy.
In this case, treatment is evident. Eat sensibly or reduce physical exertion.
We should consult the doctor if this does not help because there is probably an underlying disease.
If you have children, you should see a doctor right away because the increased fat loss is probably not due to a marathon or strict fasting.