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Question:

I have a 13 year old daughter who is losing weight. Isn't it normal for normal people to have ketones in their urine? How come people with diabetes shouldn't be showing ketones, even though they are losing weight?

Answer:

No, it is not normal for people to have ketones. This is a sign that they are not getting enough calories and are losing weight. Although in the past there were fad diets so low in carbohydrate that people who followed these diets had ketones in their urine (they were told to test their urine for ketones to make sure they were following the diet), these diets are not healthy for teenagers. People who followed these diets had normal blood sugars (unless they also happened to be diabetic).

Usually, the presence of ketones in the urine in people with diabetes is a sign that they are not getting enough insulin and are breaking down fat. (Ketones are made when you break down fat). In this case the blood sugar is high and the person may become dangerously sick with ketoacidosis if they don't receive extra insulin quickly.

Yes, individuals with diabetes can spill ketones in the urine if they are dieting very agressively. The blood sugar can be normal in this case if they are receiving enough insulin (and extra insulin may produce a low blood sugar). It is probably best for individuals with diabetes to avoid the ketones associated with weight loss.

You did not mention if your 13 year old daughter had diabetes, or whether she was losing weight as a result of dieting, or spontaneously without dieting. If she is spilling ketones in the urine or losing weight without dieting, I suggest you consult with her own physician as soon as possible.

Please note that ketones in the urine can interfere with the test for glucose on urine test strips. The test for glucose may read incorrecly low when ketones are present.

TGL

Original posting 23 May 96

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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