Educational

Ketonuria: What You Need to Know

June 05, 2020 • 📖 2 min(s)

What is ketonuria?

Ketonuria happens when you have high ketone levels in your urine. This condition is also called ketoaciduria and acetonuria.

Ketones or ketone bodies are types of acids. Your body makes ketones when fats and proteins are burned for energy. This is a normal process. However, it can go into overdrive due to some health conditions and other reasons.

Ketonuria is most common in individuals who have diabetes, particularly type 1 diabetes mellitus. It can also occur in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If ketone levels rise too high for too long, your blood becomes acidic. This can harm your health.

What are the causes of ketonuria?

Ketogenic diet

Ketonuria is a sign that your body is primarily using fats and protein for fuel. This is called ketosis. It's a normal process if you're fasting or on a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet does not typically pose a health risk if it's done in a balanced way.

Low insulin levels

Most of the energy your body uses comes from sugar or glucose. This is normally from the carbohydrates you eat or from stored sugars. Insulin is a vital hormone that transports sugar into every cell, including your muscles, heart, and brain.

People with diabetes may not have enough insulin or be able to use it properly. Without insulin, your body can't efficiently move sugar into your cells or store it as fuel. It must find another power source. Body fats and proteins are broken down for energy, producing ketones as a waste product.

When too many ketones pile up in your bloodstream, a condition called ketoacidosis or diabetic ketoacidosis can occur. This is a life-threatening condition that makes your blood acidic and can harm your organs.

Ketonuria usually happens along with ketoacidosis. As ketone levels rise in your blood, your kidneys try to get rid of them through urine.

If you have diabetes and have developed ketonuria, you likely also have high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia. Without enough insulin, your body can't properly absorb sugar from digested food.

Other causes

You can develop ketonuria even if you don't have diabetes or are on a strict ketogenic diet. Other causes include:

  • drinking excess alcohol
  • excessive vomiting
  • pregnancy
  • starvation
  • illness or infection
  • heart attack
  • emotional or physical trauma
  • medications, such as corticosteroids and diuretics
  • drug use

What are the symptoms of ketonuria?

Ketonuria may be a sign that you have ketoacidosis or leading to it. The higher your levels of ketones, the more severe the symptoms and the more dangerous it can become. Depending on severity, signs and symptoms can include:

  • thirst
  • fruity smelling breath
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • nausea or vomiting
  • frequent urination
  • confusion or difficulty focusing

Your doctor may find related signs of ketonuria:

  • high blood sugar
  • significant dehydration
  • electrolyte imbalance

Additionally, there may be signs of illnesses such as sepsis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections that can lead to high ketone levels.

Republished in partnership with [__Healthline]5. To test and track your ketone levels and more, [__order our weekly test kit]6.

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