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What is the Relationship Between Ketones and Diabetes?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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Every diabetic should be aware of the connection between ketones and diabetes. Due to the risk of elevated ketones in the bloodstream, diabetics may develop a potential harmful condition known as ketoacidosis. By understanding the risks created by the presence of high ketones in the blood, diabetics can be aware of some of the warning signs and seek treatment before the condition leads to further complications.

In order to get a better understanding of the relationship between ketones and diabetes, it is necessary to define what is meant by ketones. Simply put, this is the amount of acid that is left when the body begins to burn fat cells as a means of generating energy for the body. As more fat is burned, the ketones begin to collect in the bloodstream, and may eventually lead to a number of physical discomforts, including nausea and a sense of being unable to breathe. Left untreated, ketoacidosis can even lead to falling into a coma.

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This understanding about the relationship between ketones and diabetes is especially important to diabetics, since the body is burning more fat in an attempt to compensate for its inability to efficiently convert carbohydrates into energy. A vicious circle can emerge, as the body stores consumed carbohydrates as fat if those carbs are not converted into energy. The body then burns the fat to produce energy, leaving ketones behind to clog the bloodstream. As the level of ketones increase, the patient experiences more illness that only serves to put more stress on the body to produce energy, increasing the presence of the ketones in the blood.

There are a number of symptoms that may manifest when an individual suffers from a combination of high ketones and diabetes. Nausea is a common problem, along with frequent bouts with regurgitation after meals. The patient is also likely to feel somewhat lightheaded and find it difficult to breathe. It is not unusual for the breath to take on a fruity smell when ketone levels are increasing.

Fortunately for people who are dealing with the presence of ketones and diabetes, there are tests that can identify both the presence and the level of those acids in the bloodstream. Ketones testing using a simple diabetes urine test is often enough to determine the level of ketones present, and make it possible to take immediate action to deal with the issue. Often, a balanced diabetic diet along with drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day will be part of the treatment process, along with any other strategies that the physician believes are in the best interests of the patient.

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