Ketones are chemicals which are produced from the breakdown of body fat. They can be found in blood or urine, or smelt on the breath. They are produced if you are starved of carbohydrate (whether you have diabetes or not). In people with diabetes, ketones can also indicate a critical shortage of insulin, and this can lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious illness which should always be treated as a medical emergency.
Everyone with type 1 diabetes should have a kit to test for ketones - both blood and urine strips are available. They should know how to react if they find them.
You should discuss ketone testing and treatment with your diabetes team, and ask for written guidance. The advice given by individual clinics may differ slightly. The Ketocard is one of several advice sheets available. It is simple to follow and can be folded down to keep in a wallet or purse, so it may be particularly useful for taking on holiday, or for young people living away from home.
Your diabetes team can order supplies of the card as necessary. The link provided below will give you an idea of the size and the content of the card. We have also provided the advice in A4 format to print at home (the Ketosheet).
The Ketocard was devised in NHS Highland, and continued development has been informed by suggestions from colleagues across Scotland. The advice on the card is suitable for both adults and children, and has been approved by the Scottish Diabetes Group and Diabetes UK Scotland. Printing costs have been funded by the Scottish Study Group for the Care of Diabetes in the Young.
The card has been distributed to diabetes teams throughout Scotland. Further supplies can be ordered
from Steve Birnie
national paediatric co-ordinator, or George Farmer, Consultant Paediatrician Inverness.