How to check blood with a homemade ketone meter

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People with diabetes and ketogenic diets use the blood ketone test. You can also test your urine for ketones.

If you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor about the home blood ketone test to see if and when it is recommended for you. Ketone testing is especially important during periods of illness .

Illustration by Seth Williams. © Get Information on Medicines, 2017.

Blood ketone meters for home tests

You will need a blood ketone meter and a kit that includes a ketone lancet and test strips. These meters will also read your blood glucose test strips and both will download the results to your computer. Other makes and models may be available, including but not limited to:

  • Precision Xtra – This Abbott Diabetes Care meter can store up to 450 measurements and display average blood glucose values over time. You must enter a code to switch from glucose test to ketone test. Users seem to be more satisfied with the Precision brand, while researchers find it more accurate. The strips require 1.5 microliters of blood. It also has a backlit display.
  • Nova Max Plus – This meter from Nova Biomedical is often provided free of charge with the purchase of two boxes of test strips. You do not need to enter a code to switch from the blood glucose test to the ketone test; It does this automatically when you insert the ketone test strip. If you use it primarily for blood glucose testing, it will remind you to test for ketones if your blood sugar is 250 mg / dL or higher. Test strips for Nova Max are less expensive, but also more fragile and generate more error messages that require retesting. The strips require less blood than the Precision strips, at only 0.3 microliters.

Ketone test strips

You should purchase ketone test strips, as glucose test strips will not test for ketones. You will also need to use blood from your fingertip and not from elsewhere. Strips can be an expensive part of testing, especially if your insurance doesn't cover them.

Follow these tips and precautions when buying test strips:

  • Make sure you have purchased the correct test strips for the meter you are using (they are not interchangeable).
  • Please note the expiration dates on the strips both when you receive your purchase and when testing your blood. Expired strips will not give accurate results.
  • The FDA has warned against buying used test strips that you see on eBay. While this may be legal, you risk getting a product that has not been stored properly and has expired.
  • The FDA cautions against purchasing non-FDA approved strips for sale in the United States.

How to test your blood for ketones

  1. Insert the needle into the lancet according to the instructions on the package.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and dry well.
  3. Remove the test strip from the package and insert it into the meter.
  4. Place the lancet next to your fingertip and press the button.
  5. Squeeze your finger lightly to get a drop of blood. You will need a large drop to load the strip properly. By doing this two or three times, you will have an idea of how much blood you need. You will need a larger drop of blood with your precision meter than you would need to measure your blood glucose (even using the same meter).
  6. Touch the end of the test strip to the drop of blood until the small hole is filled and the meter registers.
  7. Wait for the meter to show you a reading (just a few seconds).
  8. Write down your results.

Ketone test in diabetes

People with diabetes are tested for ketones to look for signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If you have diabetes, you should test for ketones when:

  • Blood glucose levels consistently exceed 240 mg / dL, especially if you have CAD symptoms. Most diabetics tend to have glucose> 240 mg / dL .
  • You do not feel good.
  • You have signs of dehydration.
  • Your blood sugar level has risen too high during the night.

Studies have shown that controlling blood ketones is effective in reducing emergency department visits and hospital admissions. It also speeds recovery in people who develop diabetic ketoacidosis.

Learn how to read your blood ketone measurements and talk to your doctor about what level to call for, which will depend on individual factors. These are general guidelines:

  • A level between 0.6 mmol / L and 1.0 mmol / L is considered normal for most people with diabetes.
  • A level between 1.0 and 1.5 mmol / L is generally considered the point where you call your doctor.
  • A level between 1.5 and 2.9 mmol / L indicates a risk of ketoacidosis. You must call your doctor immediately.
  • Levels above 3.0 mmol / L are a medical emergency. You must go to the emergency room or call 911.

Ketone test for the ketogenic diet

If you have normal blood glucose levels, your blood ketone levels may be higher in the morning after an overnight fast. However, many people report that their ketones increase throughout the day. If you want to track your blood ketone levels on a daily basis, choose a time of day and sticking to it will give you a better comparison. Some factors other than the general diet that can cause fluctuations include exercise and consumption of MCT fats, such as coconut oil or MCT oil. And of course, if you eat something (usually high in carbs) that gets you out of ketosis , your ketone levels will plummet.

How to interpret the results of a ketogenic diet

If you're new to the ketogenic diet and have a nutritional ketosis goal (often defined as 0.5 to 3 mmol / L), keep in mind that it can take two to four weeks to consistently fall into this range. adjustments to find out what you can and cannot eat, even for people who are veterans of the low-carb diet.

The ketone meter was designed to alert people with insulin-dependent diabetes to the signs of dangerous diabetic ketoacidosis. However, if you don't have diabetes and are on a ketogenic diet, you are using it for a completely different reason. In this case, high ketones are not a sign of high blood glucose levels, they are not caused by protein breakdown, and they are not toxic.

For more information on dietary ketosis, see Jeff Volek and Stephen Finney's books: The Art and Science of Low Carb Living and The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance .

Get the word of drug information

If you have diabetes, measuring your blood ketone levels can reduce your risk of hospitalization and diabetes complications such as ketoacidosis. Talk to your doctor about testing for ketones at home. If you don't have diabetes, you may not be familiar with home fingerstick tests and will need to learn how to perform them correctly. When buying an FDA approved ketone meter, it comes down to the individual choice that is easiest for you to use. Always follow the instructions strictly and repeat the test if you think you have made a mistake, as this will affect the results.

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