Increased ketones in your urine (diabetic ketoacidosis)
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes. It occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids (ketones). Your body is unable to produce insulin, which plays a key role in helping blood glucose enter your cells as a source of energy. If you don’t have enough insulin your body starts breaking down fat as an alternative energy source. This process makes toxic acids (ketones) circulate in the bloodstream. If untreated this condition can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.
If you have diabetes or you’re at risk of diabetes, learn the warning signs of ketoacidosis.
Diabetic ketoacidosis signs and symptoms often develop very quickly, sometimes within 24 hours. You may notice: excessive thirst, frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness or fatigue, shortness of breath, fruity-scented breath, and/or confusion.
More-specific signs of diabetic ketoacidosis can be detected through home testing, and they include high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia) and high ketone levels in your urine.
Contact your doctor immediately if:
- You are vomiting and unable to tolerate any food or liquids
- Your blood sugar level is higher than your target range and doesn’t respond to home treatment
- Your urine ketone level is moderate or high
Seek emergency care if:
- Your blood sugar level is consistently higher than 300 mg/dL
- You have ketones in your urine and can’t reach your doctor for advice
- You have multiple signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis — excessive thirst or frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, fruity-scented breath, or confusion.
Remember, untreated diabetic ketoacidosis can be fatal.