Why Should Diabetics Test for Ketones?
The body can be likened to a machine: it needs fuel to power it. Whereas a car’s engine is fueled by burning gasoline, your body burns glucose, a form of sugar, to make everything work. When you take in food, your body breaks that food down into its basic forms: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates or sugars.
Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which is responsible for transporting blood sugar to your cells for them to use. When the cells don’t need the sugar, insulin breaks it down, thereby keeping your sugar metabolism in check. In people with diabetes, their body has lost the ability to regulate the production of insulin and the metabolism of blood sugar. This is extremely important, as uncontrolled diabetes can lead to cardiovascular problems, kidney failure, blindness, poor circulation and resultant amputation, blindness, strokes, and even death.
Diabetics must take special care to eat a diet low in processed sugar, exercise, take medications and/or insulin injections, and monitor their blood sugar through blood tests. When a diabetic doesn’t manage his diabetes well and his blood sugar becomes too low, cells in his body will begin burning fat instead. Although most people might think this is a good thing, for diabetics it can be deadly. When fat is burned for energy, acids called ketones are produced. These can accumulate in the body and at high levels cause a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis. Diabetics are at risk for so-called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a potentially life-threatening condition resulting from high quantities of ketones in the body. This can cause vomiting, dehydration, confusion, and even coma and death.
Since diabetics have such sensitive systems, they should regularly check for ketones, as the presence of these chemicals could indicate that the management of their diabetes needs some “tweaking.” Ketone testing may be done at home with a simple urine test using ketone test strips. These strips are available over-the-counter at local drugstores, and also from diabetic or medical supply companies by phone or online. Diabetics should test for ketones in their urine if their blood sugar count is higher than 250 mg/dl for two or more tests, if they are pregnant or ill, or if they plan on exercising and their glucose count is over 250 mg/dl. The test kits are very easy to use. Simply remove the test strip from its wrapping and either pass it through the urine stream or place it in a container of fresh urine. The pads on the strip will indicate the level of ketones in the urine, if any, by color. The amount of ketones will determine the severity of the condition, which should be addressed by such measures as calling a physician to consult, drinking plenty of water or other non-calorie fluids to flush the ketones out of the body, and ceasing exercise as long as the blood sugar remains above 250 mg/dl. The diabetic should continue testing his glucose level every 3-4 hours and testing his urine for ketones if the glucose level remains high.
Management of diabetes is possible through a healthy lifestyle and frequent monitoring of your body’s glucose and ketone levels. These simple tests could save your life. We sell Ketone Care Test Strips for $6.99 per box of 50.
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