This can happen for one of two reasons:

• if you do not have enough insulin in your blood;

• if there simply isn’t enough sugar available e.g. as a result of a low carbohydrate diet

Using fat as an energy source is perfectly natural. For example, if you are fasting, whether by choice (on a diet) or because you are stranded without food, you need to be able to use stored fat for energy. But the process needs to be controlled by insulin.

Ketones become a problem when you do not have enough insulin to control ketone production properly such as with Type 1 diabetes. When too many ketones are produced too quickly they upset the delicate balance of the body’s chemistry and can lead to a problem called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is dangerous, but the good news is that you can usually stop it from developing. Who is most at risk from ketones?

  1. People who use insulin: Illness, and sometimes stress, can make ketone levels rise.
  2. Young children with diabetes: Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the symptoms of rising ketones from other childhood illnesses.
  3. Pregnant women with diabetes: High ketone levels can affect the unborn baby, so pregnant women with diabetes need to take extra care.
  4. Insulin pump users: If an insulin pump fails blood glucose and ketone levels can rise very quickly.