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Ketones in Urine

A keto diet is a low-carbohydrate and high-fat based diet where the body uses up all its glucose or sugar supply and goes into a state of ketosis which basically means that the body now starts using and burning up fats to generate energy for its everyday functions. This burning up of fats create ketones in the body.

So, what are these substances that can turn into glucose in the body?

Ketones are the elements that replace glucose in a low carbohydrate-based diet. They offer a variety of health effects to your body and also helps give your body energy to carry on everyday functions in place of glucose. When the ketone levels in your body increases, it is termed as ketosis. Ketosis is the ultimate goal of everyone practising a keto diet. But, by what symptoms do we look out to know that we have finally reached the stage of ketosis? The answer is straightforward! We just have to check for ketones in the urine. As for, what ‘ketones in urine’ are, this article will discuss that in detail in easy and simple terms!

However, before we begin discussing ketones in urine, we’d break up about what ketones really are in a bit more detail.

Ketone bodies are molecules, soluble in water, that is made by your liver from fatty acids. The molecules include acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. The production of ketone bodies is a metabolic process that takes place during a prolonged period of fasting or starvation. However, in some cases, they can move out of control and become extremely dangerous and harmful to our bodies. However, this is only a rare case and happens to people who are severe alcoholic and suffer from alcoholism and some people who suffer from type 1 diabetes.

One other way to boost your ketone production is with the low-carb keto diet. The diet helps you imitate a sense of starvation and forces your body to go into the state of ketosis due to the non-availability of glucose or sugar in your body due to less consumption of carbohydrates. The cells in your body pick up these ketones and transform them into acetyl-CoA, a molecule that is used by the cell’s mitochondria to be oxidized for energy and then converted to fatty acids in the brain. The production of all ketones happens in the liver.

When ketone levels are on the higher side, there are various ways to detect them in your urine, breathe and blood. Ketone levels can vary, depending on how much of ketones your body is making versus how much it is actually utilizing.

Now let us come to ketones in urine.

Ketonuria is the terms that are used to describe ketones in urine. This is a sign that your body is now using fat as its primary source of energy for its everyday functions. The presence of acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate in your urine indicates the presence of ketones in your body. There are multiple causes of finding ketone in urine including diabetes, eating, disorders, diabetes, and the keto diet. The diagnosis of keto in your urine can be made with the help of a urine test strip that is used to test for keto.

keto urine

What does the presence of ketones in your body indicate?

It has been studied that people how are more prone to have ketones in their urine or have ketonuria have a healthy metabolism as compared to people who do not produce ketones in their urine even after a prolonged period of starving or keto diet. It is a symptom that your body is good at burning fat which is essential for good and healthy metabolism. This is also a symptom that you have reached ketosis which is ultimately the main aim of everyone who is practising the keto diet. However, ketone levels in urine should drop after two to three weeks of being on a diet because your body definitely gets used to the keto diet by that point of time. This means that the ketone production in your body is either not getting utilized or that your body is producing more ketones that are to be used.

However, excess ketones in urine can also indicate a problem of some sort. It can also mean that your body is lacking the amount of glucose and insulin that it needs to function correctly. Too much of ketone production can lead to a condition called ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a condition that causes acidity in the blood and from overproduction of ketones. It is harmful because since it turns up the level of acids in your blood, it can cause medical issues in your body. However, ketoacidosis is not very common unless you suffer from type 1 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of ketones in the urine?

Ketones in urine can be measured with the help of urine test strips. Most of the stripes diagnose acetoacetate in the urine. Urine test strips are used in the same way that one uses a pregnancy kit. You just have to pee on it for the device to pick up the range of ketones that are present in your urine at a given moment. Some other signs of ketones in the urine include a very sweet smell because ketone bodies produce a robust and fruity scent. The slightly unpleasant smell is only for a short while when you first start the keto diet. If budget is not an issue, then you can also use instruments like the blood ketone meters and the ketone breathalysers. The better and more cost-effective way of diagnosing the symptoms is if you begin suffering from the keto flu. The symptoms include:

1. Keto breathes:

It is the fruity smell that you experience when you first start the keto diet. It might be unpleasant at times, but overall, it does not really cause your body any sort of harm.

2. Fatigue and headaches:

Often, the signs of ketosis include suffering from frequent fatigues and headaches. These headaches are nasty and can often go on for really long periods.

3. Urination:

Ketosis also leads to a person to begin to urinate frequently. Frequent urination in turn again leads a person to lose hydration from the body and become dehydrated soon unless one drinks a lot of water and other fluids.

4. Sore muscles:

Along with fatigue, people also experience soreness in the muscles and body pain. However, since body pain and soreness in the muscles are a common indicator of any number of diseases, do not panic. Look for other signs as well. It might be that the soreness in your body could be a sign to something minimal like overall tiredness.

5. Insomnia:

Insomnia or lack of sleep is a significant symptom of ketones in your bloodstream. Since there is a large number of ketones that your body needs to burn for your body to be tired, there is a chance that excess ketones in the body will just be the reason for your sudden insomnia. You just do not get tired quickly enough because of excess energy production in your body. Your brain is always using the ketones by burning them and producing more and more energy.

6. Fogginess in the brain:

One of the most tell-tale signs of ketone production is fogginess in the mind. This is also because you are always distracted and wanting to do something else because of the energy in your body. You become more out of touch with what is going around you and feel anxious and agitated in the process.

What is the normal range of ketones in your urine?

While the results vary from person to person, there is a sample range of ketones that can be or should be present in your urine. They include small: less than 20 milligram/dL or moderate that is 30 to 40 milligram/dL and high that is above 80 milligram/dL. It is the higher concentration of ketones in your urine that can be relatively harmful. However, small to medium proportion of ketones in your body can be okay and even healthy since you are on a low-carb and high fat-based diet. The remnant of low to medium range of ketones is a sign that your body is quite efficient at burning fat to use it as energy for its own needs.

ketones in urine

Now, over to the main question: Is the presence of ketones in your urine dangerous?

While a certain level of ketone presence in your urine is a sign of healthy metabolism is a sign of a good and healthy metabolism, you must also remember that too much of a good thing is not always right and can also have harmful consequences. Because, at the end of the day, ketones are acidic and too many ketones can make your blood acidic. This can lead to a dangerous situation and can often be a threat to the life of an individual. This is called diabetic ketoacidosis or in short DKA.

Ketones should be present in your urine only if you are undergoing a low-carb diet or fasting for long periods. This is because your body, due to the lack of glucose and insulin for energy your body starts using and breaking down fats to meet the energy requirement of the brain and the other organs of your body. But, if your glucose and insulin levels are above or on the range of standard and you still have ketones in your urine, chances are that there is something genuinely wrong with your body, and you might be suffering from ketoacidosis. And it is dangerous as well.

So, what are the classic symptoms of Ketoacidosis?

Interestingly, it is noted that the symptoms of diabetes are also the symptoms for someone suffering from ketoacidosis. They are:

1. Thirst:

Feeling thirsty quite excessively is a sign of ketoacidosis.

2. Dry mouth:

When your mouth gets parched too often and too quickly, it can be a symptom of ketoacidosis.

3. Frequent Urination:

Urinating frequently and at quicker intervals are also a sign of ketoacidosis.

4. Fruity Breath:

Getting a fruity yet slightly unpleasant smell from your breath is a sign as well.

The more severe signs include:

1. Constant nausea and vomiting:

Feeling nauseous for more extended periods and vomiting often is a sign that things have escalated beyond a point.

2. Pain in the abdomen:

Constant pain in the stomach with extreme pangs in between is also a symptom of ketoacidosis.

3. Confusion:

Ketoacidosis often leads to uncertainty in the brain and can lead to extreme fogginess in the minds of people.

4. Weakness:

Feeling nauseous for more extended periods and vomiting often is a sign that things have escalated beyond a point.

5. Trouble in breathing:

Having trouble while breathing is also a common sign in people suffering from the same. Shortness is breathing is an absolute indicator.

However, when is the right time to look for a treatment for ketoacidosis?

Apart from the symptoms mentioned above that includes nausea, vomiting, confusion, increased thirst, and constant urination and stomach ache, there are a few more things to keep in mind when you decide to do a test to look for a treatment for ketoacidosis. They are:

    • Sudden and unexplained rise in the levels of your blood sugar. Check for available treatments when you have a sugar level of more than 250 milligram/dL in your blood when you take two blood tests back to back.

    • Check if you have a sudden flu, infection or injury of some type on your body.

    • If you are planning to exercise and see that your blood sugar level is above 250 milligrams/dL.

    • In case of a pregnancy, check your ketone range each morning before you start with breakfast. This can also be done anytime your glucose level goes up over the point of 250milligram/dL.

However, if you are feeling jittery about whether or not you are suffering from ketoacidosis, it is always better to consult a doctor soon and get all your doubts wholly cleared. NO confusion is worth it if you are still thinking about whether or not you are healthy.

ketones in urine

Can dehydration be a cause of ketones in your urine?

Dehydration is definitely a cause of ketones in your urine. Dehydration leads to high blood sugar levels which in turn can lead to a more significant increase in the levels of ketones in the body. This significantly increases urination, and which causes the body to lose water faster than we are able to replenish it with. Also, in the case of ketonuria, it can also lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea which again increases the chances of dehydration in the body.

So what treatments are there that can help us deal with the problem?

There are some easy methods and treatment to treat yourself if you are suffering from excess ketones in your urine. We have discussed a few of them below:

1. Take sick leave and plan how you can utilize it the best to treat yourself and take care of your health with your doctor. Keep constant touch with your preferred doctor if you have high sugar content in your body and you still suffer from too many ketones in your body. You might be instructed by your doctor to pump in additional insulin in your body to keep your blood sugar/ glucose levels normal or a little lower than normal

2. Now if you experience severe vomiting while you also have excess ketones in your urine make sure you call up a doctor before your condition worsens because vomiting can quicken the diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA.

3. Drink water and other fluids to urinate the ketones out of your body. Hydration will keep your body active and help you balance the ketone levels in your bloodstream.

4. Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels as well as your glucose levels every three to four hours just to know how well your body is acting from time to time.

5. Try not to exercise when you have a ketone level that is in excess go what is considered normal and also when your blood sugar level is above 250 milligrams/dL. This is because your body is unable to produce a sufficient amount of insulin in your body to bring down your glucose levels. The additional calories you will be burning via the means of exercising will only burn more fat, creating extra ketone bodies in your blood.

6. If you are already using an insulin pump and have an excess of ketone bodies in your bloodstream and urine, you need to inject the insulin as and when required so that your glucose levels can remain stable.

Thus, we can see that while the production of extra ketone bodies in your blood and urine is not always a good thing, it can be easily controlled by simple steps and measures, and it does not still have to develop into the full-blown problem of ketoacidosis that will end up harming the body more than it would do us any good.


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