Ketone Bodies (Urine)
Does this test have other names?
Ketone test, urine ketones
What is this test?
This test is used to check the level of ketones in your urine. Normally, your body
burns sugar for energy. But if you have diabetes, you may not have enough insulin
for the sugar in your bloodstream to be used for fuel. When this happens, your body
burns fat instead and produces substances called ketones. The ketones end up in your
blood and urine.
It's normal to have a small amount of ketones in your body. But high ketone levels
could result in serious illness or death. Checking for ketones keeps this from happening.
Why do I need this test?
People with high levels of blood sugar often have high ketone levels. If you have
high blood sugar levels and type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it's important to check your
People without diabetes can also have ketones in the urine if their body is using
fat for fuel instead of glucose. This can happen with chronic vomiting, extreme exercise,
low-carbohydrate diets, or eating disorders.
Checking your ketones is especially important if you have diabetes and:
Your healthcare provider may order this test, or have you test yourself, if you:
Are often quite thirsty or tired
Have muscle aches
Have shortness of breath or trouble breathing
Have nausea or vomiting
Have a fruity smell to your breath
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also check for ketones in your blood if you have high
levels of ketones in your urine.
If your healthcare provider suspects you have diabetes, he or she may order other
urine tests to check for these substances:
Glucose, or blood sugar
pH, or acid level
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
Some ketone tests give the results in numbers. Others only tell you if your ketone
levels are "trace," "small," or "large." If your test strip gives you a number, you
can learn your normal range. Normal results vary depending on your condition. Talk
with your healthcare provider about your results and what levels are dangerous for
How is the test done?
This test can be done at home or in a lab using test strips. Collect your urine in
a clean container and put a test strip in it. The strip changes color as it reacts
to the ketones.
If you do this test at home, keep a record of the results to report to your healthcare
provider at your next visit.
Does this test pose any risks?
This test does not pose any known risk.
What might affect my test results?
Exercising strenuously, taking certain medicines, and following a special diet, such
as a low-carb or high-fat diet, may affect the test. Ask your healthcare provider
if you should avoid any foods before taking the test.
How do I get ready for this test?
You may have to take this test if your fasting blood sugar levels are high. Ask your
healthcare provider when you should take the test and if you should fast, especially
if you do this test at home. Also be sure your healthcare provider knows about all
medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines
that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.