Ketone Testing

Ketone testing is a key part of type 1 diabetes management as it helps to prevent a dangerous short term complication,ketoacidosis, from occurring.

If you have type 1 diabetes, it is recommended that you have ketone testing supplies on your prescription.

Ketone testing may also be useful in people with other types of diabetes that are dependent upon insulin.

Why test for ketones?

Ketones are produced by the body as an alternative source of energy to sugar. The body producesketones by breaking down fats, this process is known asketosis

Ketones may be produced as part of weight loss, however, it’s important for people with diabetes oninsulin to note that ketones can be produced when the body has insufficient insulin.

When the body has too little insulin, it means that cells of the body cannot take in enough sugar from the blood. To compensate for this, the body will start to break down fat to provide ketones.

However, if a high level of ketones is produced, this can cause the blood to become acidic which can lead to illness and even potential danger to organs if not treated in time.

This state is referred to asdiabetic ketoacidosis

Where can I get ketone testing kits and sensors?

The most accurate way of testing for ketones is to use a meter that measures blood ketone levels.

The following blood glucose meters are able to test blood ketone levels in addition to blood glucose levels:

If you take insulin, you should be able to get these prescribed by your GP.

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Ketone Testing

You can also test urine for ketone levels, however, urine ketone testing is not as accurate as blood ketone testing as the levels of ketones in the urine will usually only reflect a level of up to a few hours previously.

When to test for ketones?

People with insulin dependent diabetes should take a ketone test:

How to do a blood ketone test

A blood ketone test is carried out in a similar way to ablood glucose test

Note that only a select number ofblood glucose meters provide ketone testing functionality.

How to do a urine ketone test

Before testing, check the expiry date on the tub to ensure the strips are good for use. Also check the instructions which will tell you how long you need to wait, after urine is applied to the strip, before checking the colour chart.

The process forketone testing will then usually follow steps similar to these:


Testing for ketones is relevant for people with type 1 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, a lack of insulin can lead to higher levels of ketones which in turn could lead to a dangerous state called ketoacidosis.

Diabetes UK recommends people with type 1 diabetes test for ketones if blood glucose levels become high – usually above 15 mmol/L.

Testing for ketones in this way can help you to get advice and treatment before the level of ketones becomes dangerous.

There are two different ways to test for ketones. The traditional way has been to use urine ketone testing strips. More recently though, some blood glucose meters have also been developed that can test the blood for ketones.

A blood test for ketones is similar to how you would do a blood glucose test.

The following ketone testing advice is based on the recommended process for using Bayer Ketostix.

If blood glucose and ketone levels do not decrease after two tests contact your health team for advice. Bayer provides the following advice for management of ketone levels:


What should the ketone test results be?

Ketone testing for weight loss

Some people use ketone testing as a way to test whether their body is breaking down fat. Higher ketone levels indicates a greater likelihood ofweight loss

Note, however, that this use of ketone testing isnot recommendedby theNHS and ketone test strips provided by your GP are not to be used for this purpose.

For people with diabetes on insulin, having high ketone levels should be regarded as potentially dangerous.