The Language of Diabetes

Note: A few of the links are no longer working… I’ll get to it eventually.

The Language of Diabetes

  • [A-B]
  • adult-onset diabetes: old term for type 2 diabetes.
  • A1C (HbA1c or glycosylated hemoglobin test): a test that measures a average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. The test shows the amount of glucose that sticks to the red blood cell, which is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood. It is an average, however, and does not tell you anything about the highs and lows you have had over time. It’s important to keep daily records of home blood glucose testing to help you and your doctor understand your A1c results.
  • A1c conversion: Formula to find your average daily blood sugar based on A1c. See Blood Glucose Conversion Chart.
  • autoimmune disease: disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.
  • background retinopathy (nonproliferative retinopathy): a type of damage to the retina marked by bleeding, fluid accumulation, and abnormal dilation of the blood vessels. Generally an early stage of diabetic retinopathy.
  • beta cell: a cell that makes insulin. Located in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.
  • blood glucose (blood sugar): the main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy.
  • blood glucose level: the amount of glucose in a given amount of blood. It is noted in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or milliomoles per litre (mmol/L).
  • blood glucose meter (glucometer): a small, portable machine used to check blood glucose levels at home.
  • borderline diabetes: A semi-obsolete term. Recently, borderline diabetes has been used to refer to impaired glucose tolerance or insulin resistance.
  • brittle diabetes: a term sometimes used when a person’s blood glucose level is very reactive, moving often from low to high and from high to low. Most often considered to be a lifestyle issue.
  • [C-E]
  • carbohydrate counting: a method of meal planning based on counting the number of grams of carbohydrate in food.
  • certified diabetes educator (CDE): a health care professional, often a nurse or dietician, with expertise in diabetes education who has met eligibility requirements and successfully completed a certification exam. An important member of your diabetic treatment team.
  • complications: long-term harmful effects of diabetes such as damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, teeth and gums, feet and skin, or kidneys. Studies show that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels close to normal can help prevent or delay these complications. Because some type 2 diabetics may have diabetes 10-12 years prior to be diagnosed, some complications in early stages may be present at diagnosis.
  • dawn phenomenon: the early-morning (4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) rise in blood glucose level. Everyone experiences some dawn phenomenon. Hormones tell the liver to release glucose as a part of preparing our bodies to wake up. In diabetics, these hormones may be out of balance with insulin and cause the liver to release too much glucose.
  • diabetes insipidus: a medical condition characterized by frequent and heavy urination, excessive thirst, and an overall feeling of weakness. This condition may be caused by a defect in the pituitary gland or in the kidney. In diabetes insipidus, blood glucose levels are normal, but the presenting symptoms mimic the symproms of diabetes mellitus.
  • diabetes mellitus: a medical condition characterized by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) resulting from the body’s inability to use blood glucose for energy. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin and therefore blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly.
  • diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): an emergency condition in which extremely high blood glucose levels, along with a severe lack of insulin, result in the breakdown of body fat for energy and an accumulation of ketones in the blood and urine. Signs of DKA are nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fruity breath odor, and rapid breathing. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and death.
  • diabetic neuropathy: a family of nerve disorders caused by uncontrolled diabetes. Hyperglycemia can over time damage nerves throughout the body. The three major forms of neuropathy in people with diabetes are peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and mononeuropathy. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which affects mainly the legs and feet.
  • diabetic retinopathy: diabetic eye disease; damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. Loss of vision may result. See also proliferative retinopathy and background or nonproliferative retinopathy.
  • diagnosis: finding out you have diabetes. Often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and fear.
  • dietitian: a health care professional who advises people about meal planning, weight control, and diabetes management. A registered dietitian (RD) has more training.
  • dilated eye exam: a test done by an eye care specialist in which the pupil of the eye is temporarily enlarged with eyedrops to allow the specialist to see the inside of the eye more easily.
  • endocrine gland: a group of specialized cells that release hormones into the blood. For example, the islets in the pancreas, which secrete insulin, are endocrine glands.
  • endocrinologist: a specialist physician who treats people who have endocrine gland problems such as diabetes.
  • [F-H]
  • fasting blood glucose test: blood glucose level after not eating for 8 to 12 hours (usually overnight). This test is used to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes and to help you monitor and control your blood sugar.
  • gastroparesis: a form of neuropathy that affects the stomach. In people with gastroparesis, digestion of food may be incomplete or delayed, resulting in nausea, vomiting, or bloating, which can make blood glucose control difficult. The gastroparesis diet may help some people control the problem without medications.
  • gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): a type of diabetes mellitus that develops only during pregnancy and usually disappears upon delivery, but increases the risk that the mother will develop diabetes later. GDM is managed with meal planning, activity, and, in some cases, insulin.
  • glucagon: a hormone produced by the alpha cells in the pancreas. It raises blood glucose when the body needs more glucose to function. An injectable form of glucagon, available by prescription, may be used to treat severe hypoglycemia.
  • glucose: one of the simplest forms of sugar.
  • glucose tablets: chewable tablets made of pure glucose used for treating hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • glycemic index: a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods, based on the food’s effect on blood glucose compared with a standard reference sample food. One method of blood sugar control is to use the glycemic index to help you choose foods with less of an impact on blood sugar.
  • honeymoon phase: temporary remission of hyperglycemia that occurs in some people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, when some insulin secretion resumes for a short time, usually a few months, before stopping again.
  • hyperglycemia: high blood glucose. Fasting hyperglycemia is blood glucose above a recommended level after a person has fasted for at least 8 hours. Postprandial hyperglycemia is blood glucose above a recommended level 1 to 2 hours after a person has eaten. Although blood glucose recommendations vary, fasting glucose levels are often recommended to be below 120, preferably below 100. Postprandial levels are often recommended to be below 140.
  • hyperinsulinemia: a medical condition related insulin resistance in which the body responds to poor use of insulin by producing more, resulting in high blood insulin levels.
  • hypoglycemia: often refered to as a “low,” blood glucose is lower than normal, usually less than 70 mg/dL. Symptoms can include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, and confusion. If left untreated, severe hypoglycemia may lead to unconsciousness, coma or death. Hypoglycemia is treated by consuming a fast-acting carbohydrate – such as glucose tabs, juice, or hard candy. Glucagon can be administered to unconscious individuals. Hypoglycemia is sometimes referred to as an insulin reaction.
  • hypoglycemia unawareness: a problem in diabetes care in which a person does not feel or recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Repeated lows may impair the body’s release of stress hormones that help signal the low.
  • [I-N]
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM): old term for type 1 diabetes.
  • impaired fasting glucose (IFG): when blood glucose testing, taken after an 8- to 12-hour fast or sleep, shows a level of glucose higher than normal (100) but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes (126). IFG, also called pre-diabetes, increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • impaired glucose tolerance (IGT): when postprandial blood glucose levels during a glucose tolerance test are higher than normal (140) but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes (199). IGT, also called pre-diabetes, increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • insulin: the hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. Normally beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing nearly completely and must be replaced through injections or other insulin sources.
  • insulin resistance: the body’s inability to respond to and use the insulin it produces. Insulin resistance may be linked to obesity, hypertension, and high levels of fat in the blood.
  • islets of Langerhans: groups of cells located in the pancreas that make hormones that help the body break down and use food. For example, alpha cells make glucagon and beta cells make insulin. Also called islets of Langerhans (LANG-er-hahns).
  • juvenile diabetes: old term for insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), or type 1 diabetes.
  • ketone: a chemical produced when the body breaks down body fat for energy. Diabetics may have very high levels of blood glucose but are unable to use the glucose for energy due to the lack of insulin. This may lead to very high levels of ketones and diabetic ketoacidosis and coma.
  • lancet: a spring-loaded device used to prick the skin with a small needle to obtain a drop of blood for blood glucose testing.
  • metabolic syndrome: the occurence together of several medical conditions including obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes or pre-diabetes, hypertension, and high lipids.
  • noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM): old term for type 2 diabetes.
  • nutritionist: a person with training in nutrition; may or may not have specialized training and qualifications. The nutritionist may help people with diabetes to modify their diet for better blood glucose control and better health. See dietitian.
  • [O-W]
  • obesity: a condition in which a greater than normal amount of fat is in the body; more severe than overweight. Defined as having a body mass index of 30 or more.
  • oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): diagnostic test to determine an individual’s ability to process glucose over time. Helpful in identifying pre-diabetes and diabetes.
  • oral hypoglycemic agents: oral medications for type 2 diabetes to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. Classes of oral hypoglycemic agents are alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, D-phenylalanine derivatives, meglitinides, sulfonylureas, and thiazolidinediones.
  • pancreas: a body organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. Located behind the lower part of the stomach.
  • peripheral neuropathy: nerve damage that affects the feet, legs, or hands. Peripheral neuropathy causes pain, numbness, or a tingling feeling.
  • podiatrist: a physician who treats people for foot problems.
  • pre-diabetes: See insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance. People with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and for heart disease and stroke.
  • proliferative retinopathy: a diabetic eye condition in which fragile new blood vessels grow along the retina and in the vitreous humor.
  • rebound hyperglycemia: a swing to a high level of glucose in the blood after a low level. Also called the Somogyi effect, may follow an untreated hypoglycemic episode during the night and is caused by the release of stress hormones.
  • retina: the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.
  • retinopathy: see background retinopathy, proliferative retinopathy, and diabetic retinopathy.
  • secondary diabetes: a type of diabetes caused by another disease or certain drugs or chemicals.
  • self-management: in diabetes, the ongoing process of an individual managing his or her health. Diabetes self-management includes meal planning, exercise, blood glucose monitoring, taking medications, handling episodes of illness, managing blood sugar when traveling, and more. Often a part of the team management approach. Recommended tests as a part of managing diabetes include A1c, blood pressure, urinary microalbumin, lipid profile, eye exam and foot exam.
  • sugar diabetes: old term for diabetes mellitus.
  • team management: a treatment approach in which a person with diabetes manages care with the help of a team of health care professionals including a doctor, a dietitian, a nurse, a diabetes educator, and others.
  • type 1 diabetes: diabetes characterized by a total lack of insulin, causing high blood glucose. Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed in childhood although may occur in adults. Type 1 occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them.
  • type 2 diabetes: diabetes characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people. Lifestyle including excess weight and lack of exercise is a recognized risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes.
  • wound care: steps taken to ensure that a wound such as a foot ulcer heals correctly. People with diabetes may heal more slowly and need to take special precautions so wounds do not become infected.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s