Difference Between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis


Main Difference

The main difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis is that ketosis is a metabolic state whereas ketoacidosis is a complication of diabetes it occurs when one’s body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.

Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis

A low carbohydrate diet is a trigger of ketosis whereas poor diabetes management is a leading trigger of ketoacidosis. Other triggers of DKA is stress, heart attack, misuse of alcohol, misuse of drugs, some medications, severe dehydration, some major illness (sepsis, pancreatitis, myocardial infarction) and malnutrition. A symptom of ketosis is bad breath. Ketones are broken down for use as a fuel source and acetone is one of the products that is eliminated from the body in urine and breath and causes fruity smell or bad breath. While in the case of ketoacidosis, symptoms of the disease are extreme thirst, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, stomach pain, tiredness, fruity breath smell, shortness of breath and feeling of confusion. Having low carbohydrate diet is the most significant risk factor of ketosis although it may be for any purpose eating disorder can be a risk factor for ketosis whereas heavy alcohol use, misusing drugs, skipping meals and nor eating enough people are at high risk of developing ketoacidosis.


Comparison Chart

Ketosis is a metabolic state of the body in which the body starts to produce ketones in high levelsKetoacidosis is that serious complication of diabetes in which the body produces high levels of ketones
Fatigue, weakness, memory problems, lack of concentration, feeling cold, anemia, change in mood, getting ill frequentlyHigh blood glucose level, high ketone level in urine, thirst, urination, dry skin, exhaustion
Blood testBlood test
Ketonic dietDiabetes type 1
No needFluid by mouth, replacement of electrolytes, IV insulin

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis also is known as nutritional ketosis occurs when the body starts using fats instead of glucose as a source of fuel. The liver breaks down the fats into ketones and liberates them into the bloodstream. The body uses these ketones as an energy source. It is a normal metabolic process of the body. Ketosis results because of the ketogenic diet which aims to induce nutritional ketosis. The ketogenic diet is also called a low carbohydrate diet or a keto diet. People usually do this by eating foods that are high in fat but very low in carbohydrates. This way has become popular to burn fats and loses weight. Doctors initially developed this ketogenic diet to treat children with epilepsy. This diet involves eating 3 to 4 grams of fats for every 1 g of carbohydrates and proteins. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, research has shown that more than 50% of children who tried the diet have half the seizures rate while 10 to 15% become seizure free. Doctors do not explain why this diet reduces some symptoms of epilepsy. Research data shows that this ketogenic diet help with some other neurological disorders, for example, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. But if ketones level in the body increases as a result of ketosis then eventually ketoacidosis can occur which is a lethal complication. A ketogenic diet can have many harmful effects such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.


What is Ketoacidosis?

Ketoacidosis is a potential complication of diabetes type 1, and in this, the body feels starving and starts breaking down fats and protein quickly. It is also known as diabetic ketoacidosis. If the body does not have enough insulin, the body cannot transfer glucose from the blood into cells where energy is needed. Consequently, glucose and ketones accumulate in the blood at a dangerous level. Doctors called it diabetic ketoacidosis. Doctors can use both blood and urine tests to diagnose weather condition is ketoacidosis or ketosis. During nutritional ketosis, it is expected to have blood levels of ketone about 0.5 to 3.0 mill moles per liter. A person should check his ketones level if the blood glucose levels are higher than 240 milligrams per deciliter. People with diabetes type 1 are at high risk of developing ketoacidosis if blood ketones levels are higher. Although diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a medical emergency that progress quickly but it can also be managed. Doctors treat this condition in a hospital or emergency room with insulin therapy with fluid and electrolyte replacement. Most people with DKA will need to stay at the hospital for monitoring. As blood ketones levels return to normal, the doctors may recommend additional testing to know whether an individual has other risk factors for ketoacidosis. People with diabetes disease can reduce the risk of ketoacidosis by monitoring the blood glucose levels regularly, testing urine for ketones, avoiding exercise if ketones present in urine and taking insulin on directions of the doctor.

Key Differences

  1. Ketosis is generally safe whereas ketoacidosis can be dangerous for the body.
  2. Ketosis results because of ketogenic diet whereas ketoacidosis occurs because of diabetes type 1.
  3. Ketosis can be alleviated without seeking any treatment whereas, for ketoacidosis, treatment is required.
  4. Ketosis can leads to weight loss and bad breath whereas ketoacidosis can lead to death.


It has concluded that ketosis and ketoacidosis are both same conditions medically in which the body starts to produce a high level of ketones but ketosis is safe, and ketoacidosis is a life threatening condition.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White