Ketones are a very important subject mater, and I am extremely surprised that there isn’t more discussion amongst the diabetic communities about it. Ketones can occur in both type 1 & 2, when (for whatever reason) glucose is not able to enter your body’s cells. Continued high levels of ketones can cause a very dangerous condition called “Ketoacidosis”. Ketoacidosis (DKA) can cause a diabetic to become comatose, or even death if not treated immediately. A perfect example of just how serious this condition is, are two (now deceased) women named Madeline Kara Neumann, and the well publicized Heiress Casey Johnson. Two very different scenarios, however, both died from ketoacidosis. The sad part about both these cases, is that they both could have been easily saved if they just had insulin.
When glucose cannot get into your cells, OR when there’s a very low amount of glucose present, the body automatically goes in to survival mode. It’s important that to realize that we all need glucose in order to live, it is the very energy that fuels our bodies to do what it does, including brain function!! Once your body flips in to survival mode, it will then take whatever resources it has at it’s disposal to use to make energy. If there is a low presence of glucose, or there is untreated insulin resistance, the first resource the body will use to break-down and manufacture glucose is protein. Btw, for this reason, I don’t agree with high protein, and extreme low carbohydrate diets. If your consuming protein to build muscle and such, you’d be defeating the purpose because your body has to try and compensate for the carb deprivation, by using the remainder of your available protein (food for thought).
Once the body has used up all it’s available protein, it will then begin to break-down your fat to produce energy. The process for breaking down fats in to energy causes ketones. Think of ketones as left over debris, when a house is fumigated, or a heavy fog inside your body. High levels of ketones will then turn in to ketoacidosis, and make you very sick, and can lead to hospitalization. To prevent this condition, you MUST check your blood sugar at least twice a day for type 2, and 4-6 times a day for type 1. If your sugars are consistently higher than 300 ml/dl, you need to check for ketones. You can find ketone urine test strips in any pharmacy. If you test positive for ketones, call your doctor immediately. Predominant symptoms are nausea and vomiting, pronounced thirst, excessive urine production and abdominal pain that may be severe (pain can get so severe, has been known to be mistaken for appendicitis), breath that has a sweet fruity smell, throw-up, regurgitate, dizziness, sometimes flu like symptoms.
Please keep in mind, ketoacidosis has been known to occur in non-diabetics too! Extremely low carbohydrates and protein diets can cause this condition, because your body is literally starving for energy. It is much safer to talk to a registered dietitian and discuss your dietary needs. The best way to treat ketoacidosis, is to try and catch it early, and know the warning signs. Some warning signs will be different for everybody. Drink plenty of fluids to restore hydration. Your doctor may want you to drink some vitamin water to try and restore potassium lost. If your on insulin therapy, follow your doctors instructions for blood sugar correction. Your sugar must be brought to normal levels as quickly as possible. If your not on insulin therapy, you must get yourself to a hospital immediately. Also, most insurances have 24 hour nurses you call to ask questions, such as Oxford Health, and United Health Care.
I hope my article has been informative! Stay safe!!