When glucose levels in the blood become too high, ketones develop. Ketones are a byproduct of the body burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. In diabetics, this happens when there is not enough insulin to deliver carbohydrates to the cells to convert to energy. Ketones are dangerous for diabetics–Type 1s, that is–because they cause the blood to become acidic, a condition called ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis over a prolonged period (weeks to months) can lead to kidney disease and other life-threatening problems.
This morning is the first time my son has had ketones since he was diagnosed in 2013. The only reason we can think that this happened is that his pump site has gone bad–this means scar tissue has formed around skin where the cannula (a hollow needle that delivers insulin) enters.
Treatment is straight forward–remove and replace pump, inject insulin every three hours, and drink plenty of water until there are no ketones. And if this doesn’t work…to the Children’s Hospital we go.