Skip to main content

Understanding blood glucose and ketone levels

Being aware of your child's blood sugar levels is a vital part of their diabetes management plan. Regular monitoring of their blood sugar will indicate how their body is responding to medications, change in diet and exercise. 

This can help you and your health care professional to more precisely manage their diabetes. The trends from the regular monitoring of blood glucose can help to:

  • Recognise factors that may result in low or high glucose level
  • Show the effect of medications, diet and exercise on their blood glucose levels
  • Change their treatment plan, if required

 For effective monitoring of blood glucose levels:

  • With the help of your health care professional, find your child's blood glucose targets and testing schedule
  • Accurately follow the procedure while checking blood glucose
  • Record their test results in a logbook or use a diabetes management software
  • Identify the patterns and factors that cause change in their blood glucose levels
  • Discuss with your health care professional before making any changes to their treatment plan

What are ketones?

Your body usually runs on glucose (sugar) created when the body breaks down food. But when your body doesn’t have enough insulin to use the glucose, your body starts breaking down fats for energy. Ketones are a by-product of this breakdown. People with type 1 diabetes are at risk of having more than normal amount of ketones in the blood.

Ketones make your blood acidic. Acidic blood can cause a serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The presence of ketones is often one of the signs that a person needs medical help. A health care professional may recommend people with type 1 diabetes test for ketones.

What are the symptoms of ketone build-up?

You should keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis. Early signs and symptoms can include:

  • Passing large amounts of urine
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling sick
  • Abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • An increase in their blood sugar and/or ketone levels

Your specialist diabetes health care professional will provide advice about ketone testing and what to do if ketone levels are raised.