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What can cause ketoacidosis in people with diabetes?

Ketones are acids that build up in the blood and appear in the urine when your body doesn't have enough insulin. They are a warning sign that your diabetes is out of control or that you are getting sick. High levels of ketones can poison the body. When levels get too high, you can develop diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.

Here are three basic reasons for moderate or large amounts of ketones:

  • Not enough insulin: Maybe you did not inject enough insulin. Or your body could need more insulin than usual because of illness.
  • Not enough food: When you're sick, you often don't feel like eating, sometimes resulting in high ketone levels. High levels may also occur when you miss a meal.
  • Insulin reaction (low blood glucose): If testing shows high ketone levels in the morning, you may have had an insulin reaction while asleep.

Monitoring urine for ketones is important in preventing ketoacidosis. Urine tests for blood glucose levels do not provide the timely information that is important in blood glucose management.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.