When the body has insufficient insulin, it cannot get glucose from the blood into the body’s cells to use as energy and will instead begin to burn fat. The liver converts fatty acids into ketones which are then released into the bloodstream for use as energy. Ketones are a by-product of fat breakdown, and high levels can be toxic. Ketone testing strips check for the presence in urine of one type of ketone, called acetoacetic acid.
This can occur when people with type 1 diabetes don’t take insulin for long periods of time, when insulin pumps fail to deliver insulin and the wearer does not monitor blood glucose, or during serious illness (in type 1 or type 2) when insulin doses are missed or not increased appropriately for the stress of illness.
Ketones can happen to anyone with diabetes, but the condition is more common in people with type 1.
Ketones upset the chemical balance of your blood and, if left untreated, can poison the body.