Ketonuria is a term which describes the presence of ketone bodies in the urine. Ketones, as they are also known, are produced in the body as part of the breakdown of fatty acids. When they are present in the urine, it indicates that the body is burning fat for energy. There are a number of reasons why someone can develop ketonuria, with this symptom sometimes being a cause for concern. In diabetic patients especially, ketones should not be found in the urine.
It is possible to test for ketonuria with a test strip which can be dipped into a urine sample, or held under a stream of urine while someone urinates. These test strips react to ketones in the urine, changing color to indicate whether or not ketone bodies are present, and at what concentrations. This test is instant and very convenient, and it can even be administered at home by people who might have reason to monitor for ketone bodies.
In patients with diabetes mellitus, if there are ketones in the urine, it suggests that the diabetes is not well controlled. When switching types of insulin, the ketone body test can be used to confirm that the medication is working well. Ketonuria can also occur as a result of starvation, heavy exercise, an imbalanced diet, hyperthyroid syndrome, pregnancy, lactation, fever, or simple fasting. In fact, it is not uncommon for hospitalized patients to have ketonuria.
This symptom appears when the body is not able to utilize carbohydrates. In the case of a patient with diabetes, the body is not metabolizing the carbohydrates properly, so the body is burning fat for energy. In other patients, the body may not be getting enough carbohydrates, or stress may be causing the body to use up its energy from carbohydrates and turn to fat for additional energy. When people have ketonuria, they also commonly express ketones in their breath, with the breath having a distinct sharp odor.
When someone has ketonuria, it is important to find out why. The condition may be relatively benign and not a cause for concern, or it may be worrying. A patient interview may be conducted to find out what the patient last ate and when, how heavy the patient's exercise has been lately, and so forth. The interview will also be used to determine whether or not the patient has an underlying medical issue which could be contributing to problems with carbohydrate utilization.