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Keytone Testing Options


Updated July 14, 2010

Keytone Testing Options

Precision Xtra measures both glucose and ketones.

Photo courtesy of Abbott Labs

Ketone Testing Options:

Ketones are something every person with type 1 diabetes should know about.

What Are Ketones?

Ketones are a toxic byproduct of burning fat for energy. When you do not have enough insulin to help your body use the sugar in your bloodstream for energy, your body will look for an alternate source of fuel in body fat. When fat is broken down, ketones form in the blood. You are most at risk for ketones when you have insufficient amounts of insulin or you have an infection or illness.


If you have ketones, it might lead to the development of ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition where your body is being poisoned by the high concentration of ketones in your blood. If not treated, ketoacidosis can lead to coma or even death.

There are two at-home options to accurately assess the presence of ketones in your blood:

Urine Testing

As ketones build up in the blood, they eventually spill into the urine. A simple test can be performed at home using urine testing strips to detect the presence of ketones. When these test strips come in contact with urine, they immediately change color to indicate the amount of ketones in the urine. For many years, this was the only means of accurately testing ketones at home.

At-Home Blood Ketone Testing

Though urine strips for ketone testing are still widely used, another recent option is at-home blood ketone tests.

Blood ketone testing at home involves purchasing a glucose meter that will also read the amount of ketones in the blood. One meter that has been on the market for several years and is considered among the best is the Precision Xtra Meter by Abbott Labs. It measures both glucose and ketones. Different strips are used depending on which you want to measure. Since ketone testing is typically infrequent, you would be using the meter mostly for daily glucose management. During times of sickness, you could also use the ketone strips to assess the presence of ketones.

The Precision Xtra meter costs about $75, and a box of ten ketone testing strips costs around $70, depending on where you purchase them.

Every person with type 1 should have a means of testing their ketones as needed through a lab or by having a supply of urine test strips or a ketone testing meter. These would be good additions to your diabetes travel kit.

Lab Blood Ketone Testing

In addition to the at-home testing options, you may have your blood drawn at your doctor’s office or lab. For infants and young children, a prick of the finger will usually provide enough blood to accurately assess the presence of ketones. The lab processes the blood sample and provides the results.


The Importance of Blood Ketone Testing in Diabetes Management. Managed Care. Accessed June 16, 2010. http://www.managedcaremag.com/supplements/0404_ketonetesting/MC0404_ketonetesting.pdf

Serum Ketones Test. National Library of Medicine. Accessed June 16, 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003498.htm

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