Contact Us
Simple, accurate health tests for the home and the workplace.

Testing Ketone Levels Explained


testing ketone levels

Did you know that a high level of ketones in your urine or blood could potentially be life-threatening? This is because high ketone levels could mean you’re at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis, so it is important to check and monitor your ketone levels regularly. Not sure what any of this means? We can help! 

At Home Health UK, we are a leading online pharmacy specialising in home testing and diagnostics. So, we are well-rehearsed on all the advice you need to test your ketones and why it is important. Find the answers to your questions regarding testing ketones today, and shop our collection of ketone test kits online now.

What is a Ketone?

If you’ve never heard of ketones before, you will likely be surprised to learn its existence. However, ketone is a chemical the liver produces as it breaks down fat. These ketones are then used for energy, especially in times of fasting or for longer periods of intense exercise. It is also used in place of carbohydrates if you have not been consuming as many as necessary for a healthy and balanced diet. 

It is important to note that you can have low levels of ketones, and it is not a problem. But high ketone levels could be more serious. 

Ketones and Diabetes 

Typically, ketone production in the body is a side effect of weight loss, and some follow a popular ketone diet. However, for people with diabetes, ketones may also be produced when there is not enough insulin in the body. With too little insulin, a diabetic body is not getting enough blood sugar, so ketones are produced to replace this. 

But too much ketone production can have an acidic effect on the blood, potentially leading to illness and, in worst cases, organ failure. This is known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which must be treated immediately; otherwise, it could be life-threatening. You are more at risk of developing DKA if you have type 1 diabetes. However, those with type 2 diabetes should also look out for the signs of high ketones.

It is also important to note that DKA is common in people not yet diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, especially children. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that data from Diabetes UK suggests that 23% of children are diagnosed with diabetes through DKA. 

Symptoms of High Ketones

In order to stop a build up of ketones in its tracks, you must know the symptoms to look out for. If you do suspect any of these symptoms, then it is time to do a home ketone test kit. Symptoms of DKA and high ketones include:

  • High blood sugar levels 
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fruity smelling breath 
  • Fatigue
  • Using the toilet more regularly
  • Stomach pain 
  • Feeling or being sick 
  • Fainting 

As we have mentioned, if you notice these symptoms in yourself or a child, you must act quickly. The symptoms can come on suddenly, and you should test for ketones fast before contacting your GP if they are high. 

What are High Ketones?

So, now you know the dangers of high ketone levels and the symptoms that may prompt you to test these. But what exactly is considered a high ketone level? 

Your GP will be able to advise you on what is a healthy range of ketone levels for your body. However, for a general idea, we have broken down what you should be looking for. 

  • 0.6 mmol/L or Under: This is a normal ketone level. 
  • 0.6 to 1.5 mmol/L: More ketones are being produced than usual. Keep an eye on whether these levels drop. 
  • 1.6 to 3.0 mmol/L: High ketone levels, which could lead to DKA. Contact your healthcare provider for advice. 
  • 3.0 mmol/L or Above: Dangerous levels of ketone. Immediate medical attention is required. 

What is a Dangerous Level of Ketones in Urine?

As the ketone level breakdown suggests, anything above 3.0 mmol/L is a dangerously high amount of ketones in the urine or blood. If you do a ketone test and get results at this level or higher, you must seek immediate medical attention. We recommend dialling 999 or visiting your closest A&E as soon as possible. 

How to Test for Ketone Levels 

When it comes to testing your ketone levels at home, there are two ways in which you can do so effectively. These are testing your blood or testing your urine for ketones. Here’s how you can effectively do both. 

Blood Ketone Level Test 

To check the ketone level in your blood, you will follow a process similar to how you check your blood sugar levels. It requires a specialist ketone level monitor, which uses a step-by-step process of pricking your finger with a lancet device and using the blood sample with the monitor to find the result. If you have type 1 diabetes, you should be provided with a blood ketone monitor by your healthcare provider. 

Urine Ketone Level Test

You also have the option to test your ketone levels through your urine using ketone urine test strips. However, it must be noted that this testing option will let you know what your ketone levels were a few hours prior to the test. It is not a real-time result in the way that a blood ketone test result is. 

Testing your urine for ketone levels is simple and straightforward with the right test strips. Simply pee on the test strip and wait for the colour to change. You can then compare this colour to a ketone chart, typically provided with the test strips, to indicate how high your ketone levels are. 

Reliable Ketone Test Strips at Home Health UK

If you have type 1 diabetes or any DKA symptoms, you should regularly test your ketone levels at home. The less invasive and quickest way to do so is with ketone urine test strips, which you can find available at Home Health UK. 

You can also explore a wider range of diabetes management supplies all in one place, including lancet devices and blood glucose test strips. Order online at Home Health for free UK delivery. Plus, don’t hesitate to explore our full health information hub for more advice on diabetes management, and feel free to contact us today for more advice on our test kits. 


Guide to Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels

What Are Lancets? And How to Use Them

Living with Diabetes – what you need to know