Acetone in Children: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Acetone is the symptom of an eating disorder that can accompany some diseases. What are its causes, what treatments does it require and how do you know if the child suffers from it?

In children, complex sugar reserves, which provide long-lasting energy, are depleted more quickly than in adults. As an alternative source of energy, the body uses fats.

However, when burned, fats produce three substances (called ketone bodies). They are acetoacetic acid, beta-hydroxybutyric acid and acetone. Acetone is a volatile substance, which, in contact with air, gives off an unmistakable aroma, like that of a rotten apple. Other signs can be drowsiness, irritability and loss of appetite. Vomiting, bellyache, general discomfort, dark circles, headache, dry tongue and patina may also appear. Fever is another common symptom of acetone.

Acetone Causes

There are situations that favour the appearance of acetone in the child.

  • If the little one has been fasting for many hours. And it is that not being able to have sugars, the body recovers energy from fats.
  • If you have eaten in a disorderly way consuming a lot of fats (fried potatoes, fried, chocolate, cream, etc.).
  • If you have had a high fever and the child has been subjected to a very long physical effort.
  • Acetone can also occur if the child has vomited, thus eliminating the sugar reserves present in the body.
  • However, in some cases, when ketone bodies reach very high levels, the opposite may happen. The appearance of acetone may induce the child to vomit.

How to know if the child has acetone

  • Ketone bodies are eliminated with the air that leaves the lungs and with urine. These bodies can be identified in the urine with the help of a urinary stick, which detects ketonuria and is sold in pharmacies. The stick gets wet with a few drops of the child’s urine. Depending on the presence or not of acetone, the stick adopts a different colour. If the result is positive, that is, if the child has acetone, it is enough to adopt some dietary suggestions for 2-3 days. If it is negative, that is, if the child does not have acetone, the paediatrician should be consulted to find out the causes of the discomfort.

Acetone treatment

When it comes to preventing and treating acetone, the child’s diet is decisive.

  • A healthy and regular diet is enough to avoid it. When the disorder has already appeared, it is enough to offer the child chamomile sweetened with a teaspoon of sugar or honey (the latter from the first year). The child should take them in small sips. Fruit juice is also very useful.
  • In the presence of vomiting, and if the child has been filled with sweets or chips, for a couple of hours, it will be necessary to adopt a very light menu. This should contain foods rich in complex carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes), as well as fruit and vegetables. However, you should not eat meat, fatty dairy products, sausages, fried foods, sweets and chocolate. Only later can any toast with jam or honey, milk or low-sugar yoghurt be added to the child’s diet. Later, rice or pasta seasoned with a little olive oil.

When to go to the paediatrician

( A Medical Practitioner Specializing in Children and Their Diseases. )

Rarely, acetone remains high if the child eats in a balanced way. Calling the paediatrician may be necessary for the event that the acetone values ​​rise despite the fact that a correct diet has been adopted.

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