Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Ask the Diabetes Team

From Toronto, Ontario, Canada:

When a person with diabetes is in ketoacidosis can there be a false reading of being intoxicated when having to take a breathalyzer test since ketones are an alcohol (or so I've been told)?


With the help of my local laboratory pathologist, we have located two reports in the medical literature which addresses this question. However, there is not a consensus of opinion on the subject. A report in the Journal of Forensic Science in July, 1995 by Jones and Andersson indicates that ketones eliminated in the lungs can be transformed to another compound known as isopropanol. It is the isopropanol which is the agent which interferes the measurement of alcohol in the breath sample. The study was supported by the negative result for ethanol in a blood sample from the same patient.

Another study from Diabetes Medicine in March of 1989 by Slama et al. says there is no cross-reactivity and ketones could not cause a false positive alcohol breath test. As I am not a forensic pathologist, I cannot offer any additional information to the above.


Original posting 30 Jan 2001
Posted to Hyperglycemia and DKA


  Home Return to Top

Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:18
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.

This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Legal Notice, and Privacy Policy.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2015. Comments and Feedback.