Checking for Ketones in Juvenile Diabetics

Another part of the routine for monitoring and controlling juvenile diabetes is checking
for the presence of ketones. This is done by dipping a stick available at drug stores into
your child’s urine. If ketones are present the end of the stick will turn a certain color. By
matching the color of the stick with the legend on the container you can determine the
level of ketones present.

You should check for ketones first thing in the morning before your child eats (fasting).
Give your child additional insulin and fluids if there are ketones present. Also, check
again in a few hours and if the test is still positive you should check with your doctor for
further instructions.

When there are ketones in urine it is a sign that your child’s body is not getting enough
food and it is using fat stores for energy instead of food. Excessive ketones can lead to a
condition known as ketoacidosis. This is a very serious condition and can even be life
threatening. In addition to the presence of ketones you child may be very tired, have
trouble breathing, and have stomach pains or nausea.

Ketoacidosis will be present if your child’s body does not have enough insulin to process
the food he or she is eating or if they are not eating enough. The good thing about this
condition is that it is easy to prevent with careful monitoring and by following a meal
plan. If you discover ketones, it does not mean that your child has ketoacidosis. Increase
the amount of insulin that is being given in addition to reviewing recent diet changes to
try and rule out the reason for the ketones.

As in all cases when you have questions about juvenile diabetes, contact your health care
provider or diabetes educator.