What is a ketones in urine test?

The test measures ketone levels in your urine. Normally, your body burns glucose (sugar) for energy. If your cells don't get enough glucose, your body burns fat for energy instead. This produces a substance called ketones, which can show up in your blood and urine. High ketone levels in urine may indicate diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a complication of diabetes that can lead to a coma or even death. A ketones in urine test can prompt you to get treatment before a medical emergency occurs.

Other names: ketones urine test, ketone test, urine ketones, ketone bodies.


What is it used for?

The test is often used to help monitor people at a higher risk of developing ketones. These include people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, ketones in urine can mean that you are not getting enough insulin.


If you don't have diabetes, you may still be at risk for developing ketones if you:


Why do I need a ketones in urine test?

Your health care provider may order a ketones in urine test if you have diabetes or other risk factors for developing ketones. You may also need this test if you have symptoms of ketoacidosis.


These include:

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Confusion

  • Trouble breathing

  • Feeling extremely sleepy

People with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk for ketoacidosis

What do the results mean?

Your test results may be a specific number or listed as a "small," "moderate," or "large" amount of ketones. Normal results can vary, depending on you’re on your diet, activity level, and other factors. Because high ketone levels can be dangerous, be sure to talk to your health care provider about what is normal for you and what your results mean