A test (also know as glycated hemoglobin for HbA1c) that provides an estimate of average blood glucose control for the past 3 months. Also see hemoglobin A1c.
This is a thickening and darkening of the skin in patchy areas in the skin folds of the armpits, neck, or groin, ranging from tan to dark brown. This is usually a sign of insulin resistance.
ACE Inhibitor (angiotensin-converting enzyme)
A type of medication used to lower blood pressure and help treat kidney problems related to diabetes.
The body makes these proteins to protect itself from foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
ARBs (angiotensin receptor blocker)
This is a of medication taken by mouth that is used to lower blood pressure.
A process that involves thickening of the blood vessel walls leading to the heart that is believed to be related to inflammation of the vessel wall. This leads to the formation of fatty deposits (also called plaque), causing partial blockages. If these plaques rupture, clots form on that rupture site, causing a total blockage. If the blood vessel is providing blood to the heart, the result would be a heart attack.
The insulin that controls blood glucose levels between meals and overnight. It controls glucose levels in the fasting state.
Cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Blood Glucose Meter
A device that tests blood glucose (sugar) levels. A drop of blood is obtained by pricking your finger. This blood sample is placed on a small test strip that is inserted in the meter. The meter calculates and displays the blood glucose level.
A measurement of the pressure against the walls of your blood vessels as blood passes through the valves in your heart. High blood pressure is more common in persons with diabetes and increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney and eye diseases. It should be measured at every doctor visit, or at least once a year, with a goal of 130/80 mm Hg or lower.
Blood Sugar Testing
A test that a patient can do almost anywhere by pricking their finger, getting a small drop of blood, and applying it to a test strip in a meter. The meter gives a reading of what the blood sugar level is at that time.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
This is a calculation of height and weight that classifies whether a person is obese, overweight, underweight or at a normal weight.
This is the insulin that is released when food is eaten. A bolus is a single dose of insulin that is delivered by injection or by the insulin pump to "cover" a meal or snack or to correct for a high blood glucose level.
Unit that represents the amount of energy provided by food. Carbohydrate, protein, and fat are the primary sources of calories in the diet, but alcohol also provides calories. Extra calories eaten that are not used as energy, are stored in the body as fat.
One of three major sources of calories in the diet. Carbohydrates come primarily from sugar (simple carbohydrate) and starch (complex carbohydrate, found in bread, pasta, beans). Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose during digestion, and used by the cells for energy. This is the main nutrient which is monitored to keep blood glucose levels within target range.
A meal planning method commonly used by people with diabetes to plan their food and meal choices. Carbohydrate counting helps one achieve a balance between the amount of carbohydrate foods eaten and the available insulin.
A doctor who specializes in the heart and vascular system.
The system of heart and blood vessels. It is the means by which blood is pumped from the heart and circulated throughout the body. As blood circulates, it carries nourishment and oxygen to all of the body’s tissues. It also removes waste products.
Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
A healthcare professional (nurse, dietitian doctor, pharmacist) who helps manage people with diabetes and teaches them proper self-care. To become a CDE, it is necessary to pass a written exam conducted by the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators.
A condition in which the small bones of the foot become misaligned, leading to foot deformity. It is a problem that evolves as a result of nerve damage.
A waxy, fat-like substance used by the body to build cell walls and make certain vitamins and hormones. There are different types of cholesterol. The liver produces enough cholesterol for the body, but we also get cholesterol when we eat animal products. Eating too much cholesterol and saturated fat can cause the blood cholesterol to rise and collect along the inside walls of blood vessels. This is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
Cholesterol, HDL (also called “good” cholesterol)
A type of blood cholesterol that removes excess cholesterol from the blood back to the liver where it is reprocessed or eliminated. The goal for men is greater than 40 mg/dl and for women greater than 50 mg/dl.
Cholesterol, LDL (also called “bad” cholesterol)
A type of blood cholesterol that can be deposited in the vessels. High levels increases an indvidual’s risk for heart disease. Goal levels are less than 100 mg/dl.
Counter Regulatory (Stress) Hormones
These are released during stressful situations. Examples include glucagons, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, cortisol and growth hormone. They cause the liver to release glucose and fatty acids for extra energy. If there’s not enough insulin present in the body, these extra fuels can lead to hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis.
A waste product made from the activity of the muscles. Normally, kidneys can remove this substance from the blood. A buildup of creatinine in the blood signals that the kidneys are losing their ability to function normally.
A rise in blood glucose levels due to rise in hormones that occurs in the early morning hours.
The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial. This was a 10-year study sponsored by the National Institute of Health. Over 1,400 people with type 1 diabetes followed either conventional therapy (usually, two insulin injections a day) or intensive therapy (multiple daily injections or an insulin pump). The study proved that tight blood glucose control reduces the risk of diabetic complications.
A disease in which the body cannot produce the hormone, insulin or the insulin that is made does not work properly. This causes blood levels of glucose (or sugar) to rise.
(See Oral Hypoglycemic Agents/Anti-diabetic Hypoglycemic Agents).
This is a type of diabetes that occurs when women are pregnant. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes requires treatment with diet and/or insulin to keep blood glucose levels within normal range to avoid complications in the infant. It is also more common among certain minority groups, obese women and women with a family history of diabetes.
Diabetes, Type 1
This is also known as insulin dependent diabetes that is usually diagnosed in children. In unusual cases it has also been diagnosed in adults. In this type of diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas eventually stop producing insulin and the individual must inject insulin to meet the body's needs. The causes are being studied, theories include environmental triggers, viruses and an inherited or genetic predisposition.
Diabetes, Type 2
This is also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes and is usually diagnosed in adults. However, more youth are being diagnosed with type 2. With this type of diabetes, insulin is still produced but the insulin that is made does not work properly. Recommended treatments are meal planning, exercise, and often needs the addition of diabetes pills and/or insulin injections. A person with this type of diabetes who needs insulin injections is referred to as an insulin-requiring person with Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (also called ketoacidosis or DKA)
A condition that results from a lack of enough insulin in the body that leads to high blood glucose levels and ketone formation. It is an extremely serious and life-threatening condition that may lead to coma and death. The symptoms of ketoacidosis are nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, chest pain, rapid shallow breathing, and difficulty staying awake.
Diabetic Macular Edema
A condition that can occur in either stage of diabetic retinopathy (nonproliferative retinopathy, and a more serious stage called proliferative retinopathy) in which fluid collects in the central part of the retina resulting in blurred vision. Macular edema can be treated with laser surgery when central vision is threatened.
Employee Benefits Manager
The person within a company or workplace who supervises the health insurance plan for employees. This is the person you should talk to at work about any problems with payment or reimbursement for your diabetes care.
The body’s system of glands and hormones. These glands have different functions such as regulating the body’s metabolism, body temperature and growth among many others.
A doctor who specializes in diseases of the endocrine system such as diabetes.
A meal planning term used to group foods into carbohydrates, meat and meat substitutes and fats. Each serving of food has about the same amount of carbohydrate, protein, fat and calories as other foods on that list and can be "exchanged" or traded for any other food on the same list.
The date after which diabetes medicines or testing strips for blood or urine should not be used.
Fasting Blood Glucose Test
A blood test in which a sample of your blood is drawn after an overnight fast to measure the amount of glucose in your blood.
These fats come from plants. There are different types such as monounsaturated (olive or canola oil) or polyunsaturated (corn and other oils). Health professionals recommended that these be increased in the diet because they are protective for heart disease.
The most concentrated source of calories in the diet. There are different types of fats. There are healthy and not healthy fats. Excess intake of unhealthy fats, especially saturated fat and trans-fatty acids, can cause elevated blood cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
These are found primarily in animal products such as red meat and dairy produts, and in fats that are in a solid form such as stick margarine or butter. Saturated fats raise blood cholesterol levels by interfering with the entry of cholesterol into cells causing cholesterol to remain in the bloodstream longer and to become a part of the plaque that builds up in the blood vessels. Health professionals recommend that these be limited in the diet.
A type of fat formed from hydrogenation, a chemical process that changes a liquid oil into a solid fat. Trans fats are found in processed foods, such as snack foods, cookies, fast foods, and some stick or solid margarines. These raise cholesterol levels and should be eaten in as small amounts as possible.
The parts of plants that the body can’t digest, such as fruit and vegetable skins. Fiber promotes a healthy intestinal tract (parts of the stomach).
A blood test that can detect overall changes in blood glucose control over a shorter time-span than the A1C test. Fructosamine levels indicate the level of blood glucose control over the past two or three weeks. Thus, when rapid changes are being made in your diabetes treatment plan, this test quickly tells you how the changes are working and whether other changes should be considered.
A condition in which neuropathy affects the nerves controlling the digestive tract and causes difficulty processing or disposing of food. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, bloating or diarrhea. As a result of the slow transit time of food through the stomach, high blood glucose levels can occur.
The diameter (thickness) of a needle; the higher the number the thinner the needle.
Diabetes that developes during pregnancy. The mother’s blood glucose rises due to hormones secreted during pregnancy, and the mother cannot produce enough insulin to handle the higher blood glucose levels. Although gestational diabetes ceases after pregnancy, about 60% of women who have had gestational diabetes eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
A hormone that relays messages between the digestive system and the brain. It works to stimulate appetite, slow metabolism, and decrease your body’s ability to burn fat.
A hormone produced by the pancreas that raises blood glucose levels. It works opposite of insulin to keep blood sugars in target range. It comes in both a tablet or as an injectable preparation that is available by prescription for use in treating severely low blood glucose (hypoglycemia).
The form of sugar the body uses for energy. High amounts of this in the blood is unusual and requires further blood testing.
Glucose Tolerance Test
Blood test used to test for diabetes. The test checks the blood sugar every hour for 2 hours after drinking a sugar-filled liquid. Levels over 200 mg/dl at 2 hours indicates diabetes. This test is not as common as a fasting glucose test.
Glycemic Index (GI)
A system of ranking foods according to how much they raise blood glucose levels. The lower the glycemic index, the less it raises blood sugars. For instance a slice of 100% stone-ground whole wheat bread has a low glycemic index so it raises the blood glucose less than a slice of processed white bread (a high glycemic index food). The GI is an additional meal-planning tool to help one understand how carbohydrate foods can differ in their effects on blood glucose.
Health Care Team
Health care professionals who help a patient manage diabetes. This team may include a physician, registered dietitian, and certified diabetes educator (a certified diabetes educator can also be a physician, registered nurse, or registered dietitian). Ophthalmologists, podiatrists, pharmacists, and other specialists can also be a part of the team.
A condition in which the heart cannot efficiently pump blood. Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries that nourish the heart muscle narrow or become blocked. People with diabetes have a higher risk than the general population of developing heart disease.
This is a blood test that your doctor orders. It is a measure of your average blood glucose level over 3 months. Also see A1c.
Chemical messengers made in one part of the body that transfer "information" through the bloodstream to cells in another part of the body. Insulin is one example of a hormone.
This is the technical term for high blood glucose levels. Levels after above 180 after eating or above 125 fasting are considered high. Some symptoms are being thirsty, urinating frequently, feeling sluggish, weak, tired, achy, and nauseous.
This is the technical term for low blood glucose levels. Levels below 80 mg/dl is considered hypoglycemia. Some individuals experience hunger, faintness, headache, irritability, trembling, excessive perspiration, and a rapid heartbeat.
A condition in which the immune system is weakened. This can happen for several reasons. People who receive kidney, pancreas, or islet cell transplants take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent their immune system from attacking the new organ.
A hormone made by the pancreas (an organ in our body) that tells glucose (or sugar) to go into the cells where it is used to make energy for the body.
Prefilled 1.5 ml cartridges containing 150 units of insulin, for use in the insulin pen.
A device to inject insulin that is about the size of a writing pen that uses single-use disposable pen needles.
An insulin delivery system that is a small mechanical device that is about the size of a beeper or pager. It is attached to the body by way of tubing and a small needle and is programmed to deliver small doses of insulin into the body when needed.
A condition in which the body does not respond to insulin properly. This is the most common cause of type 2 diabetes.
Insulin Sensitivity Factor
The amount of blood glucose measured in mg/dl that is lowered by 1 unit of rapid-acting or regular insulin. The insulin sensitivity factor is used to calculate the amount of insulin you need to return blood glucose to within your target blood glucose range. Also called the correction factor or supplemental factor.
The basic device used for drawing and injecting insulin.
Treatment in which the insulin dose and timing are decided first, and the person with diabetes eats and participates in physical activity according to the time actions of the injected insulins.
A type of insulin that begins to work to lower blood glucose within 1 to 4 hours and works hardest 4 to 15 hours after injection. Examples of intermediate-acting insulins are NPH and lente.
Insulin, Long-acting Peaking
A type of insulin that doesn’t begin to work to lower blood glucose until 4 to 6 hours after injection It works hardest from 8 to 30 hours after injection and continues to work for up to 24 to 36 hours. An example of a long-acting peaking insulin is ultralente.
Insulin, Rapid Acting
A type of insulin that begins to work to lower blood glucose within 10 to 30 minutes and works hardest 30 minutes to 3 hours after injection. Several examples of rapid-acting insulins include lispro, aspart and apidra.
Insulin, Short-acting Insulin
A type of insulin that begins to work to lower blood glucose within 30 to 60 minutes and works hardest 1 to 5 hours after injection. The common form of short-acting insulin is called regular.
A method of determining how much rapid-acting insulin is needed to cover the carbohydrate eaten at a meal or snack. This is used as part of a more advanced level of carbohydrate counting.
Islet Cell transplantation
A medical procedure that involves transplanting islet beta cells that produce insulin from a donor pancreas into a person whose pancreas no longer produces insulin.
Cells made in the pancreas that make insulin. These are also called pancreatic beta cells.
Islets of Langerhans
Cells found in the pancreas, the most important of which are beta cells – the tiny factories that make insulin.
Ketoacidosis (diabetic coma)
A severe condition caused by a lack of insulin or an elevation in stress hormones. It is marked by high blood glucose levels and ketones in the urine, and occurs much more frequently in those with type 1 diabetes.
Acids produced by the body when too much fat is used for energy instead of glucose. If ketones build up in the blood it accumulates in the blood and spills into the urine. This excess formation of ketones in the blood is called ketosis and when it accumulates in the urine it is called ketonuria. If untreated, this combination of high blood glucose and ketones can lead to a condition called ketoacidosis (also called DKA).
See Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA
A small needle used to get a drop of blood from your finger, arm, or other site. The blood is placed on a special strip, which is put into the meter. The meter "reads" the strip and gives a blood glucose reading.
Adjustments made to one’s eating habits and physical activity in order to control blood glucose.
Some people refer to this as a diet for people with diabetes, but it really involves planning meals and snacks so that you can balance the amount of sugar or glucose in the food you eat with exercise and diabetes medications (insulin or diabetes pills).
Medical Nutrition Therapy
A method of controlling blood glucose by working with a dietitian to assess one’s food and nutrition needs and then developing and following an individualized meal plan.
A group of conditions that increase the risk of developing heart disease and strokes. The most recognizable components of this syndrome are abdominal obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), high triglycerides (part of the lipid profile), low HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and glucose intolerance.
The process by which the cells of the body change food so that it can be used for energy or so that it can be used to build or maintain cells and tissues.
Milligrams per deciliter. This is the unit of measure used when referring to blood glucose levels and most other types of blood tests.
A urine test that measures the presence of small amounts of a protein called albumin.
The presence of small amounts of albumin, a protein, in the urine. Microalbuminuria is an early sign of kidney damage.
An injection that contains two or more types of insulin given in the same syringe at the same time.
Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum ( NLD)
A skin condition believed to result from inflammation of the skin in which the skin thins out, becoming discolored and dimpled. This is the most specific skin problem among people with diabetes. It can be quite disfiguring.
As the name implies, this is a device that uses air to force insulin under the skin, eliminating the need for needles (and the task of disposing of them).
A doctor who specializes in conditions of the kidney.
This is the technical term for kidney disease. The kidneys filter waste out from the body. High blood pressure and poorly controlled diabetes over time decreases the filtering function of the kidneys. When kidney function decreases waste accumulates in the blood and dialysis (filters blood through a machine) or kidney transplantation becomes necessary.
A doctor who specializes in conditions of the nervous system.
This is a term used to describe damage to the nerves. There are several categories of neuropathies and the symptoms differ depending on what part of the body has the nerve damage.
The nerve function is damaged in various organs such as the heart, stomach and urinary tract.
The nerves controlling sensation (and less commonly, muscles) in the feet, hands, and joints are damaged. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, loss of sensation and ‘feeling of needle sticks’ in the affected part of the body.
Low blood glucose that occurs in the middle of the night.
An excessive amount of body fat for an individual’s height. Most obese people are significantly overweight. However, obesity also occurs in people who are not overweight, but have more body fat than muscle. Obesity is considered a chronic illness. It is a national epidemic and is the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
A doctor who specializes in conditions of the eyes.
Oral Hypoglycemic Agents/Anti-diabetic Hypoglycemic Agents
Technical names for diabetes pills that are used to bring blood sugar levels to normal ranges in a person who has non-insulin dependent diabetes. There are a number of types of these pills which are available in different dosage strengths prescribed by your doctor.
A comma-shaped gland located just behind the stomach. It produces substances that digest food and hormones that regulate the use of fuels in the body, such as insulin and glucagon. In a fully functioning pancreas, insulin is released through beta cells located in clusters called islets of Langerhans.
Pharmacy Benefits Manager
The person within a health insurance company or health maintenance organization (HMO) who supervises approval of medications and services to be payed for, or reimbursed to, patients. This is one person to contact at your health plan if there is difficulty in getting the diabetes products you need.
Blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be considered diabetic. It is diagnosed through either a fasting plasma glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test. People with pre-diabetes are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program results showed that a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.
One of three major sources of calories in the diet. Protein provides the body with material for building blood cells, body tissue, hormones, and other important substances. It is found in meat, eggs, milk, and certain vegetables and starches.
Rebound Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose or the Somogyi phenomenon)
A condition in which, as a result of too low a level of glucose, the counterregulatory or stress hormones cause the liver to release too much glucose.
Molecules that sit on cell surfaces and play a role in chemical "communication." For example, insulin cannot "tell" the cell to bring glucose into the cell unless the receptor on the cell understands what the insulin is "saying".
The thin, light-sensitive inner lining in the back of your eye.
Over time elevated glucose levels cause damage to small blood vessels in the eyes that can lead to vision problems. The damage happens when the blood vessels bulge and leak fluids into the retina which may cause blurred vision.
The beginning stage in diabetic retinopathy. High levels of blood glucose cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The blood vessels leak fluid, which can collect and cause the retina to swell.
This is a serious form of eye damage that can cause vision loss. In this condition, new blood vessels form in the retina and branch out to other areas of the eye. This can cause blood to leak into the clear fluid inside the eye and can also cause the retina to detach.
Part of the American Diabetes Association recommendations that individuals with diabetes participate to take care of their diabetes. Among these activities are daily foot care, self monitoring of blood sugars, daily physical activity, making healthy food choices and keeping doctor’s visits.
An individual with diabetes who manages one’s diabetes by checking blood glucose, and knowing how food intake, physical activity and medication work together in order to keep blood glucose in good control.
Times when you get sick from things that can affect your diabetes care, like the flu, diarrhea, vomiting, dental work, minor surgery, etc. It is recommended that a sick day plan be developed with a member of your diabetes health care team before you get sick.
See Rebound hyperglycemia
A form of carbohydrate that provides calories and raises blood glucose levels. There are a variety of sugars, such as white, brown, confectioner’s, invert, and raw. Other forms of sugar include fructose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, glucose, honey, corn syrup, molasses and sorghum.
These are sweeteners that replace other sugars in foods causing slightly lower rises in blood glucose. They can be listed as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol among others..
Sweeteners used instead of sugar to lower calorie intake. Several sugar substitutes are low in calories but can still affect the blood glucose levels, such as fructose (a sugar, but often used in “sugar-free” products). Others have no calories and will not affect blood glucose levels, such as saccharin, acesulfame-K, aspartame, (NutraSweet), and sucralose (Splenda).
A type of fat stored in fat cells as body fat and burned for energy. High levels of triglycerides are linked with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
Type 1 Diabetes
Also known as insulin dependent diabetes, this usually occurs before the age of 40 and is caused by a virus. It also has an inherited or genetic predisposition. In this type of diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas eventually stop producing insulin and the patient needs to inject insulin to meet the body's needs.
Type 2 Diabetes
Also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, this is usually diagnosed after the age of 40. People with this kind of diabetes often have a strong family history of diabetes. It is usually treated with meal planning, exercise, and often needs the addition of diabetes pills and/or insulin injections to keep blood sugar levels in the near-normal range. A person with this type of diabetes who needs insulin injections is referred to as an insulin-requiring person with Type 2 diabetes.
Tests that measure substances in the urine. Urine tests for ketones are only self-administered urine tests currently recommended for people with diabetes. They measure ketones (acids) in the urine and are important in preventing ketoacidosis.
A medical procedure to remove the blood and scar tissue from within the eye that can frequently successfully restore vision.
Back to GlossariesBack to Top