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Glossary of terms associated with diabetes

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This page lists and explains terms connected with diabetes.

A [ top ]

Acanthosis nigricans - A brown to black, poorly defined, velvety hyperpigmentation of the skin, usually present in the posterior and lateral folds of the neck, the axilla, groin, umbilicus, and other areas. This occurs due to insulin spillover (from excessive production due to obesity or insulin resistance) into the skin which results in abnormal growth being observed. The most common cause would be insulin resistance, usually from type 2 diabetes mellitus.

ACE inhibitor - A class of drugs used to decrease hypertension, mainly by interfering with renein cycle to insulin.

Adult-onset*Acetohexamide - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. People with Type 2 diabetes may take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents. One of the sulfonylurea drugs. (Dymelor™ Dimelor™)

Acetone - A byproduct of fat metabolism. One of three ketone body substances. Builds to high levels during periods of stress, infection, etc possibly leading to Diabetic ketoacidosis, a very serious condition. It can sometimes be smelled on the breath of those in, or about to enter, DKA as a fruity (nail polish remover, or lacquer thinner) sort of smell. It is chemically a ketone.

Acidosis - An acidic condition in body fluids, chiefly blood. If prolonged, or severe, it can cause coma and death regardless of cause. For a person with diabetes, this can be caused by insufficient glucose absorption (eg, from inadequate insulin) combined with metabolic ketosis. It can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis. A medical emergency. See also: Diabetic ketoacidosis.

Acute - Happens for a limited period of time; abrupt onset; sharp, severe.

drenal gland -- endocrine gland located on top of the human kidney. Secretes adrenaline, one of the primary 'fight or flight' stress hormones, which have substantial counterregulatory effects diabetes - One of the former terms for Type 2 diabetes. See: Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Adverse effect - A harmful result

Albuminuria - release of the protein albumin in urine. As this protein is strongly conserved, this is evidence of abnormal kidney function.

Alpha cell - a type of cell in the pancreas (in areas called the islets of Langerhans). Alpha cells make and release a hormone called glucagon, which raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The name for these cells is different in the UK.

Amino acid - a weak acid carbon compound containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. The nitrogenous amine group is characteristic. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are about 20 used in the human body, of which about half can be constructed internally. The rest must come in the diet -- they are the essential amino acids.

Amyotrophy - A type of diabetic neuropathy that causes muscle weakness and wasting.

Angiopathy - A process that damages the blood vessels.

Anomalies - Birth defects; abnormalities.

Antibodies - Chemicals produced by the immune system which are very carefully tuned to attach only to particular substances in foreign bodies (eg, viruses, bacteria, foreign tissue, ...) Upon attachment, other parts of the immune system attack and destroy to tagged entity. It is an inappropriate antibody reaction to normal proteins found on beta cells that are thought to be the main mechanism of beta cell destruction in Type 1 diabetes.

Antidiabetic agent - A kind of medication that helps a person with diabetes control the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood so that the body works as it should. See also: Insulin; oral hypoglycemic agents.

Antigen - The substance in a foreign body which evokes antibody production specific to it.

Antiseptic - A product that reduces the presence of infective agents

Arteriosclerosis - Hardening of the blood vessels. The same meaning as atherosclerosis.

Artery - Blood vessel with muscular walls on the 'supply side' of the blood circulation, between the left ventricle and capillary beds throughout the body.

Artificial pancreas - A large machine used in hospitals that constantly measures glucose (sugar) in the blood and, in response, releases the right amount of insulin. Scientists are also working to develop a small unit that could be implanted in the body, functioning like a real pancreas.

Aspartame - An artificial sweetener that can replace sugar. It is composed of two amino acids and is therefore a kind of miniature protein. It is sweet because, in a way not entirely clear even now, it interacts with the taste buds to cause a sweet taste.

Asymptomatic - No symptoms; no clear sign of disease present. Most Type II diabetics are without clinically obvious symptoms for some time (up to decades) before they are diagnosed as diabetic.

Atherosclerosis - See: Arteriosclerosis.

Autoimmune disease - A condition in which the immune system inappropriately attacks a body tissue. Multiple sclerosis, some kinds of rheumatism, lupus, and Type 1 diabetes are examples. The reasons for the immune system misbehavior are not, in general, understood.

Autonomic neuropathy - Damage to nerves that do not control senses or muscles. These nerves control 'automatic' processes, like heart rate and body temperature. They can be damaged by diabetes, just like 'regular' somatic nerves, but the results are 'system-wide', not just pain or muscle weakness.

B [ top ]

Background retinopathy - Also known as non-proliferative retinopathy

Basal rate - Refers to a continuous supply of something. In the case of diabetes, it refers to low levels of insulin needed for such purposes as controlling cellular amino acid uptake, potassium uptake, etc.

Beta cell - One class of cells found in the islets of Langehans in the pancreas. They are the source of insulin, and contain mechanisms which watch blood glucose levels and secrete (or not) insulin in response.

Beta cell transplantation - See: Islet cell transplantation.

Biosynthetic human insulin - A man-made insulin that is chemically identical to like human insulin. See also: Human insulin.

Biphasic insulin - A type of insulin that is a mixture of intermediate- and fast-acting insulin. See 70/30.

Blood glucose - Glucose is a simple sugar and the primary fuel for body cells. It is absorbed from food, absorbed into the cells (for most cells this is under control of insulin), stored in the liver as glycogen, made in starvation from the glycerin backbone of triglycerides, and from a few amino acids. Anomalies of glucose metabolism are the cause of diabetes mellitus.

Blood glucose meter - A machine which electrochemically or coloristically, determines the current level of glucose in a blood sample. Modern machines can be quite small and inexpensive. The expense of testing is primarily in the unique strips used with each testing machine.

Blood glucose monitoring - tracking one's blood glucose level, usually by using a blood glucose meter

Blood pressure - The pressure in arteries caused by blood pumping within the body. It has two values. The higher is taken immediately after the left ventricle contracts. The lower is taken just before that contraction.

Blood sugar - Another name for blood glucose.

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) - A measurement of a metabolic waste product in the blood. Urea is one end product of protein metabolism. Increased levels of BUN in the blood may indicate early kidney damage as the kidney fails to excrete it in the urine.

Blood vessels - Tubes which carry blood around the body. They come in three types, arteries, veins, and capillaries. Capillaries are always tiny, the others vary from large to quite small.

Bolus - An amount of something given in one 'lump'. A meal is a food bolus, continuous snacking for an afternoon is not. In diabetes, it generally refers to an extra amount of insulin given in a single one dose to cover an expected rise in blood glucose (sugar) such as the rise that occurs after eating.

Borderline diabetes - A term no longer used. See: Impaired glucose tolerance.

Brittle diabetes - A term used when a person's blood glucose (sugar) level often swings quickly from high to low and from low to high. Also called labile and unstable diabetes.

Bronze diabetes - See: Hemochromatosis.

Bunion - A bump or bulge on the first joint of the big toe caused by the swelling of a sac of fluid under the skin.

C [ top ]

Certified diabetes educator (C.D.E.) - A health care professional who is qualified by the American Association of Diabetes Educators to teach people with diabetes how to manage their condition. The health care team for diabetes should ideally include a diabetes educator, preferably a C.D.E.

C-peptide - A substance that the pancreas releases into the bloodstream in equal amounts to insulin. A test of C-peptide levels will show how much insulin the body is making. Insulin is prepared as two insulin molecules linked by a c-peptide. When insulin is secreted, C-peptide is released as well. It has been shown to ameliorate some diabetic complications, such as neuropathy and microvascular damage.

Callus - A small area of skin, usually on the foot, that has become thick and hard from rubbing or pressure. Calluses may lead to other problems such as serious infection. Shoes that fit well can keep calluses from forming. See also: Foot care.

Calorie - In diabetes, a measure of the chemical energy in a fixed amount of food. The food Calorie is 1000x the calorie used in heat physics. Not all calories in food are usable. For instance, sawdust is largely cellulose (ie, glucoses stuck together in long chains), and can be burned in a calorimeter, but the body contains no mechanism to use it as fuel. Calories relevant to diabetes come only from those substances in food which are actually used by the body. Thus, protein is not normally used for fuel, and so should not be counted as a food calorie in normal situations. In a calorimeter it is worth 4 calories/gram, while fat/oils are worth 9 calories/gram, and carbohydrate is worth 4 calories/gram. A gram is about 1/5 of an ounce for those more familiar with English measures.

Capillary - a very small blood vessel. At one end of a capillary is a connection to the body's arteries and at the other end of a capillary is a connection to the body's veins. It is in the capillaries that most gas exchange (oxygen out of the blood into the tissues, and carbon dioxide into the blood). The reverse exchange happens in the capillaries of the lungs. Capillaries are controlled by very small muscles which affect blood pressure very substantially. Those muscles are in turn controlled by, among other things, the presence or absence of insulin in the blood.

Carpal tunnel syndrome - irritation and swelling of one of more of the nerves in the carpal tunnel in the wrist. Effects range from considerable pain to loss of function. The cause is thought to be mechanical, as in repetitive motion of the wrist joint as in typing while in inappropriate wrist positions.

Cataract - clouding of the transparent protein in the lens of the eye.

Cerebrovascular disease - Damage to the blood vessels in the brain, resulting in a stroke. People with diabetes are at higher risk of cerebrovascular disease.

Charcot foot - A foot complication associated with diabetic neuropathy that results in destruction of joints and soft tissue. Also called "Charcot's joint" and "neuropathic arthropathy."

Chemical Diabetes - is a term that is no longer used. See: Impaired glucose tolerance.

Chlorpropamide - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents One of the sulfonylureas. (Diabinese™)

Cholesterol - a waxy substance related to the steroid class of chemicals which serves as a substrate for many things including cell membrane construction. It is involved in the transport of fat in the blood. Those transport versions (Low Density Cholesterol or High Density Cholesterol) differ, and not only in density. HDL is associated with the scavenging of plaque on arterial walls, while LDL is associated with deposition of such plaque. High cholesterol levels are statistically correlated with vessel disease and with heart attack. Cholesterol is manufactured in the body and is absorbed in the diet. Furthermore, some diet elements seem to be connected with higher body production of cholesterol (eg, saturated fat).

Chronic - Present over a long period of time. Diabetes is an example of chronic disease.

Circulation - the structures and control mechanisms which manage blood circulation. it includes the heart, lungs, arteries, veins, and capillaries. Clinical trial - A study carried out in people to answer a question such as whether a new treatment (or drug or exercise technique) is effective or safe. In the US, studies are broken into Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III trials. A properly designed study is carefully controlled and designed to produce reliable information. A poorly designed study (and there are many of these) does not produce reliable information, though its results are often widely distributed for various reasons.

Coma - unconsciousness. In a diabetic context, an overdose of insulin (caused by inappropriate management: medication (too much or wrong), eating (too much or wrong), exercise (too little), or by assorted pathologies such as extreme hyperglycemia, or diabetic ketoacidosis.

Comatose - In a coma; not conscious.

Complications of diabetes - Harmful effects that may happen when a person has diabetes. Some acute effects, such as hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, can happen any time. Others develop when a person has had diabetes for a long time (years, or even decades). These include damage to the retina of the eye (retinopathy), the blood vessels (angiopathy), the nervous system (neuropathy), and the kidneys (nephropathy). Studies very clearly show that keeping blood glucose levels as close to the normal, nondiabetic range as possible does help prevent, slow, or delay the long term complications of diabetes (eye, kidney, blood vessel, and nerve damage).

Congenital defect - Problems or conditions that are present at birth.

Congestive heart failure - Heart failure caused by loss of pumping power by the heart, resulting in fluids collecting in the body.

Contraindication - A condition that makes a treatment not helpful or even harmful.

Controlled disease - Taking care of oneself so that a disease has less of an effect on the body. People with diabetes can "control" the disease by staying on their diets, by exercising, by taking medicine if it is needed, and by monitoring their blood glucose. This care will help keep the glucose (sugar) level in the blood from becoming either too high or too low.

Conventional therapy - A system of diabetes management practiced by most people with diabetes; the system consists of one or two insulin injections each day, daily self-monitoring of blood glucose, and a standard program of nutrition and exercise. The main objective in this form of treatment is to avoid very high and very low blood glucose (sugar). Contrast close control therapy. Also called: "Standard Therapy." See complications of diabetes.

Coronary disease - interference with the heart's blood supply, typically by clogging of coronary arteries. Ischemia means lack of oxygen.

Coxsackie B4 virus - A virus which can trigger an auto-immune reaction which results in an auto-immune attack on the beta cells. If destroyed, the person becomes a Type I diabetic, no longer producing insulin internally.

Creatinine - a measure of renal function. Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII) - See: Insulin pump

Cyclamate - A man-made chemical that people use instead of sugar. Banned in the US, not banned in Canada. There are disagreements about the meaning of the clinical studies which caused concern.

D [ top ]

Dawn phenomenon - A sudden rise in blood glucose levels in the early morning hours. This condition sometimes occurs in people with insulin-dependent diabetes and (rarely) in people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes. Unlike the Somogyi effect, it is not a result of an insulin reaction. People who have high levels of blood glucose in the mornings before eating may need to monitor their blood glucose during the night. If blood glucose levels are rising, adjustments in evening snacks or insulin dosages may be recommended. See also: Somogyi effect.

Debridement - The removal of infected, hurt, or dead tissue.

Dehydration - loss of fluid in the body (usually water) resulting in abnormal concentrations of substances in the blood and fluids. Too high concentrations interfere with many body processes. Insufficient fluid intake, or excessive urine output or both, are the usual cause.

Delta cell - A type of cell in the pancreas clumped with other cells (in the islets of Langerhans). Delta cells make somatostatin, a hormone that is believed to control how the beta cells make and release insulin and how the alpha cells make and release glucagon.

Desensitization - A method to reduce or stop an allergic reaction to something.

Dextrose see glucose - a variety of glucose. Glucose, like many biochemicals comes in different isomers. In living tissues, glucose comes in the dexter form.

Diabetes control and complications trial (DCCT) - A 10-year study (1983-1993) funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to assess the effects of intensive therapy on the long-term complications of diabetes. The study very clearly showed that intensive management (ie, close control) of insulin-dependent diabetes prevents or slows the development of the long-term complications of diabetes (eye, kidney, and nerve damage caused by diabetes).

Diabetes insipidus - a type of diabetes (excess urination) unrelated to diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes mellitus - A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use dietary carbohydrates (eg, sugar, starch, ...) as it should. Caused by lack of insulin, inability to respond to insulin, or both.

Diabetic amyotrophy - A disease of the nerves leading to the muscles. This condition affects only one side of the body and occurs most often in older men with mild diabetes. See also: Neuropathy.

Diabetic angiopathy - See: Angiopathy.

Diabetic coma - see coma Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) see acidosis

Diabetic myelopathy - Spinal cord damage found in some people with diabetes.

Diabetic nephropathy - See: Nephropathy

Diabetic neuropathy - See: Neuropathy

Diabetic osteopathy - Loss of foot bone as viewed by x-ray; usually temporary. Also called "disappearing bone disease."

Diabetic retinopathy - damage to the retina caused by growth of very small blood vessels. The proliferative variety is dangerous and often leads to blindness.

Diabetogenic - Causing diabetes; some drugs cause blood glucose (sugar) to rise temporarily. Other cause it to rise permanently; if so they have caused diabetes.

Diabetologist - A doctor who sees and treats people with diabetes mellitus.

Diagnosis - The term used when a doctor declares that the sings and symptoms and tests show that a person has a certain medical problem or disease. Ideally, always correct. In the case of diabetes, the tests are very clear. If you do not have high blood glucose, you shouldn't be diagnosed as diabetic.

Dialysis - providing kidney function artificially. This requires an artificial kidney (a dialysis machine) and relatively long periods hooked up to the machine every few days. It is not equivalent to a working kidney, but is sufficient to maintain life, sometimes for extended periods.

Diastolic blood pressure - See: Blood pressure.

Diet plan - See: Meal plan.

Dietitian - An expert in nutrition who helps people with special health needs plan the kinds and amounts of foods to eat. A registered dietitian (R.D.) has special training and experience. The health care team for diabetes should ideally include a dietitian, preferably an R.D.

Dilated pupil examination - A necessary part of an examination for diabetic eye disease. Special drops are used to enlarge the pupils, enabling the doctor to view the back of the eye for damage.

Distal sensory neuropathy - See: Peripheral neuropathy.

Diuretic - a drug or substance which has the effect of increasing the amount of urine the kidneys excrete. Swollen feet and ankles are sometimes treated with diuretic.

Deoxyribonucleic acid - a stable molecule which can replicate with few errors and which is used to store information about protein structures. it also contains mechanisms to block or unblock the transcription of that information on a protein by protein basis. It was the sequence of information in a single human's DNA which was the object of the Human Genome Project. That work is expected ot increase understanding of body functions and most likely to more effective treatments for many diseases. DNA is the chief genetic information storage structure of all life on Earth. In humans and other multi-cellular organisms, DNA is stored chiefly in the nucleus. Small amounts of DNA are also kept in the mitochondria, where fuel is processed aerobically to release energy.

Dupuytren's contracture - A condition that causes the fingers to curve inward and may also affect the palm. The condition is more common in people with diabetes and may precede diabetes. The mechanism is unclear. Treatment is limited to surgery and is of limited value in many cases.

Dysglycemia - A general term referring to any glucose level that is above normal including impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, prediabetes, or diabetes (also spelled dysglycaemia).

E[ top ]

Edema -- collection of fluid in the tissues of a part of the body. Diabetics often have edemic feet due to the impaired circulation in them.

Electromyography EMG - Test used to diagnose neuropathy and check for nerve damage.

Emergency medical identification - Cards, bracelets, or necklaces with a written message used by people with diabetes or other medical problems to alert others in case of a medical emergency such as coma.

Endocrine glands -- several glands and tissues which secrete signalling chemicals (almost always in very very small quantities) which control the function of other tissues. Insulin is produced by the endocrine part of the pancreas and is the primary hormone controlling metabolism.

Endogenous - Grown or made inside the body. Insulin made by a person's own pancreas is endogenous insulin. Insulin that is supplied from outside the body (ie, injected or otherwise supplied) is exogenous.

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) - The final phase of many kidney diseases; treated by dialysis or kidney transplantation. See also: Dialysis; nephropathy.

Enzymes -- proteins which have the effect of greatly increasing the reaction rate of specific chemical reactions. Reaction rates are controlled by activation energies specific to particular reactions, and enzymes have the effect of lowering the activation energy. In general enzymes are chemicals which are not consumed by the reaction. In that sense, they are cataysts.

Epidemiology -- the study of the transmission of diseases. One of the first epidemiological investigations was that of Snow in 19th century London, who traced the spread of cholera to contaminated water supplies. The epidemiology of diabetes shows that it is not spread by infection.

Epinephrine - adrenaline "neurotransmitter " at sympathetic nerve ending

Euglycemia - A normal level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Exchange lists - A grouping of foods by type to provide a rough way to help people on special diets keep to the diet. Each group lists food in serving sizes. A person can exchange, trade, or substitute a food serving in one group for another food serving in the same group. The lists put foods in six groups: (1) starch/bread, (2) meat, (3) vegetables, (4) fruit, (5) milk, and (6) fats. Within a food group, each serving has about the same amount of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and calories.

Exogenous - Grown or made outside the body; for instance, insulin made from pork or beef pancreas is exogenous insulin for people. Contrast endogenous.

F [ top ]

Fasting blood glucose test - A method for finding out how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood, at a time when it is unaffected by recent food intake. The test can show if a person has diabetes (a single reading of 126 mg/dl (7 mmol/l) is diagnostic except in newborns or pregnant women or in some unusual other conditions). A blood sample is often taken in a lab or doctor's office. The test is usually done in the morning before the person has eaten. The normal, nondiabetic range for blood glucose is approx between 70 to 110 mg/dl (5 - 7 mmol/l), depending on the person and whether the blood is from a vein or a capillary, and depending on how the measurement is made (on whole blood or just the plasma). It can also be done by anyone with a blood glucose meter, proper supplies, and an understanding of how to test.

fats - food substances which are the chief energy storage mechanism in organisms such as plants and animals. It is composed of fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol backbone, usually in threes. Fats vary in the details of just which fatty acid variants are attached. Possibilities include saturated (the usual case in animal source fats), mono or poly unsaturated (many plant oils, meaning that there is one or more double bonds in the fatty acid chain), and in where the double bond is (at the omega carbon in the 3 position, or the 6 position or ...). And in the type of fatty acid;, trans is a type not found in nature, but made industrially when plant oils are processed. Trans fats are becoming more implicated in various chronic problems.

Fiber - usually carbohydrate which cannot be digested. It passes through digestive system without being absorbed. Soluble fiber absorbs water, insoluble does so much less.

Fluorescein angiography - A method of taking a picture of the flow of blood in the vessels of the eye by tracing the progress of an injected dye.

Food exchange - See: Exchange lists.

Foot care - Taking special steps to avoid foot problems such as sores, cuts, bunions, and calluses. Good care includes daily examination of the feet, toes, and toenails and choosing shoes and socks or stockings that fit well. People with diabetes have to take special care of their feet because nerve damage and reduced blood flow sometimes mean they will have less feeling in their feet than normal. They may not notice cuts and other problems as soon as they should. They will also heal less well than others.

Fractional urine - Urine that a person collects for a certain period of time during 24 hours; usually from breakfast to lunch, from lunch to supper, from supper to bedtime, and from bedtime to rising. Also called "block urine."

Fructose - a simple sugar (often found in fruit) which does not participate in the glucose metabolism control system. It has a somewhat parallel metabolic pathway to glucose. Fundus of the eye - The central portion of the retina on back or deepest part of the eye.

Funduscopy - A test to look at the back area of the eye to see if there is any damage to the vessels that bring blood to the retina. The doctor uses a device called an ophthalmoscope to check the eye. There is also a special type of camera which takes photos of the eye (with dilated pupils) to record retinal conditions for future comparison.

G [ top ]

Galactose - a simple sugar which does not participate in the glucose metabolism control system. It is half of the disaccharide, lactose (milk sugar).

Gangrene - Infection of dead body tissue. It is most often caused by a loss of blood flow, especially in the legs and feet.

Gastroparesis - A form of nerve damage that affects the stomach and intestines. Food is not digested properly and does not move through in a normal way, resulting in vomiting, nausea, or bloating. It often interferes with diabetes management. See also: Autonomic neuropathy.

Gene - a unit of heredity. Eye color is a particularly simple system. There are blue eye genes and brown eye genes and one's eyes are brown if there is a brown gene and blue if blue genes are inherited from both parents. Each gene is a segment of DNA and is often controlled by other genes. In the case of glucose absorption, the gene whose expressed protein opens the glucose ports in the cell wall is normally inhibited by another gene's product. We understand the normal process in great detail; it is the same in nematode worms, fish, mice, pigs, cows, and people.

Genetic - See also: heredity.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) - A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. During the pregnancy (usually later in it), the woman may have glucose (sugar) in her blood at a higher than normal level. However, when the pregnancy ends, the blood glucose levels return to normal in about 95 percent of all cases. It must be treated carefully by a physician for it is dangerous to both mother and child. If treated properly, there are usually no lasting effects on either.

Gingivitis - infeciton of the gums, often chronic and low grade.

Glaucoma - an increas in the internal pressure in the eye. It is usually caused by a reduction in the outflow of fluid. Sufficiently high and prolonged glaucoma causes reduced vision and can lead to blindness.

gliclazide - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents. One of the sulfonylureas. (Diamicron™)

glimepiride - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents. One of the sulfonylureas. (Amaryl™)

glipizide - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents. One of the sulfonylureas. (Glucotrol™)

Glomerular filtration rate - A measure of the kidneys' ability to filter and remove waste products.

Glomeruli - Network of tiny blood vessels in the kidneys where the blood is filtered and waste products are removed.

Glucagon - A hormone that raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood by forcing the liver to release its intracellular stores of glucose.

Glucose - a simple sugar which is the chief carbohydrate fuel in food.

Glucose tolerance test - A test to see if a person has diabetes. The test is usually given in a lab or doctor's office in the morning before the person has eaten. A first sample of blood is taken from the person. Then the person drinks a liquid that has a measured amount of glucose in it. After one hour, a second blood sample is drawn, and, after another hour, a third sample is taken. The object is to see how well the body deals with the glucose in the blood over time without interference from other foods. Depending on the local lab, the number and spacing of samples may vary. glyburide, also called

glibenclamide - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents. One of the sulfonylureas. (Diabeta™; Glynase™; Micronase™; Euglucon™)

Glycemic index - The effect of different foods on blood glucose (sugar) levels over a period of time. Researchers have discovered that some kinds of foods may raise blood glucose levels more quickly than other foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates. cooked carrots are get glucose in the blood faster than pure glucose! In practice, foods are not eaten alone and the presence of other foods changes the measured results for the pure food. In addition, some foods don't have much carbohydrate even if they get it into the blood quickly. A better guide is glycemic density which combines the glycemic index with the amount of carbohydrate in the food.

Glycogen - A substance made from multiple glucose molecules. Sometimes called 'animal starch'. It is stored in liver and muscle cells and can be converted to glucose when needed. The glucose in liver glycogen is put back into the blood when required.

Glycogenesis - The process by which glycogen is formed from glucose. Controlled by insulin. See also: Glycogen.

Glycosuria - Having glucose (sugar) in the urine.

Glycosylated hemoglobin test - A blood test that measures the level of a particular variety of hemoglobin (Hb1Ac) which is itself a measure of a person's average blood glucose level for the 3-month period before the test. See: Hemoglobin A1C.

H [ top ]

HCF diet - A high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet.

Hemochromatosis - A condition in which excess iron levels are deposited in body tissues, damaging them. Characteristically, it causes diabetes among its other effects. It can be caused too much iron intake (the body conserves iron very well, and has few routes for discarded excess iron. In an inherited form, it is one of the most common genetic diseases in those of Northern European ancestry. It is less common in other populations. See: Bronze diabetes. Hemodialysis - A mechanical method of cleaning the blood for people who have kidney disease. See also: Dialysis.

Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) - Hemoglobin is the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells. Some subtypes react with blood glucose; the HbA1c type reacts permanently with glucose. Since blood cells live about 90 days or so, the amount of HbA1c present at any time is a record of how much glucose has been in the blood during that period.

HLA antigens - Proteins on the outer part of body cells that are (effectively) unique to that person. HLA types are inherited, and some of them are connected with Type I diabetes.

Home blood glucose monitoring - A way a person can test how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. Also called self-monitoring of blood glucose. See also: Blood glucose monitoring.

Homeostasis - the operation of body systems which has the effect of keeping assorted conditions in an effectively constant state. Thus, if you drink lots of water, your body reacts by producing more urine. Increased salt intake results in increased salt excretion. Lowered environmental temperature eventually starts chills and shivers, thus producing more heat by muscular activity.

Hormone - a chemical released by one of the endocrine glands or tissues, and which has effects on other tissues. Insulin is a hormone as is glucagon and adrenaline.

Human insulin - Man-made insulins that is identical to the insulin produced by your own body. It is produced by bacteria which have had insulin genes installed into them. Human insulin has been available since October 1982.

Hyperglycemia - a condition in which glucose levels are higher than usual.

Hyperinsulinism - Too high a level of insulin in the blood. This term most often refers to a condition in which the body produces too much insulin. Researchers believe that this condition may play a role in the development of noninsulin-dependent diabetes and in hypertension. See also: Syndrome X.

Hyperlipemia - See: Hyperlipidemia.

Hyperlipidemia - Too high a level of fats (lipids) in the blood. See also: Syndrome X.

Hyperosmolar coma - A coma (loss of consciousness) related to high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and requiring emergency treatment. A person with this condition is usually older and weak from loss of body fluids and weight. The person may or may not have a previous history of diabetes. Ketones (acids) are not present in the urine.

Hypertension - a condition in which blood pressure is higher than normal.

Hypoglycemia - a condition in which blood glucose levels are lower than normal.

Hypotension - Low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure. A person rising quickly from a sitting or reclining position may have a sudden fall in blood pressure, causing dizziness or fainting.

I [ top ]

IDDM - See: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

IGT - See: Impaired glucose tolerance.

Immunosuppressive drugs - Drugs that block the body's ability to fight infection or foreign substances that enter the body. A person receiving a kidney or pancreas transplant is given these drugs to stop the body from rejecting the new organ or tissue. Cyclosporin is a commonly used immunosuppressive drug.

Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) - Blood glucose (sugar) levels higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. People with IGT may or may not develop diabetes. Other names (no longer used) for IGT are "borderline," "subclinical," "chemical," or "latent" diabetes.

Implantable insulin pump - A small pump placed inside of the body that delivers insulin in response to commands from a hand-held device called a programmer.

Impotence - inability to participate in sexual relations. In men, it is usually caused by failure of the complex mechanisms involved in erection. It's common in diabetic men, due to nerve damage to the nerves involved in the erection sequence.

Infusion Set - a tubing system to connect an insulin pump to the pump user, including a subcutaneous cannula, adhesive mount, quick-disconnect, and a pump cartridge connector.

Ingestion - Taking food, water, or medicine into the body by mouth.

Injection - Putting liquid into the body with a needle and syringe.

Insulin - a hormone produced by the islet of Langerhans' beta cells. It is very small as proteins go and has effects all over the body, some connected with metabolism and others connected with arterial wall muscle tone, or electrolyte balance across cell membranes, etc. It is also the chief control mechanism in metabolism.

Insulin allergy - When a person's body has an allergic or bad reaction to taking insulin made from pork or beef or from bacteria, or because the insulin is not exactly the same as human insulin or because it has impurities. The allergy can be of two forms. Sometimes an area of skin becomes red and itchy around the place where the insulin is injected. This is called a local allergy. In another form, a person's whole body can have a bad reaction This is called a systemic allergy. The person can have hives or red patches all over the body or may feel changes in the heart rate and in the rate of breathing. A doctor may treat this allergy by prescribing purified insulins or by desensitization. See also: Desensitization.

Insulin antagonist - Something that opposes or fights the action of insulin. Insulin lowers the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood, whereas glucagon raises it; therefore, glucagon is an antagonist of insulin.

Insulin binding - When insulin attaches itself to something else. This can occur in two ways. First, when a cell needs energy, insulin can bind with the outer part of the cell. The cell then can bring glucose (sugar) inside and enables its use for energy. With the help of insulin, the cell can do its work very well and very quickly. But sometimes the body acts against itself. In this second case, the insulin binds with the proteins that are supposed to protect the body from outside substances (antibodies). If the insulin is an injected form of insulin and not made by the body, the body sees the insulin as an outside or "foreign" substance. When the injected insulin binds with the antibodies, it does not work as well as when it binds directly to the cell.

Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) - An out-of-date term for Type 1 diabetes mellitus. See: Type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Insulin-induced atrophy - Small dents that form on the skin when a person keeps injecting a needle in the same spot. They are harmless. See also: Lipoatrophy; injection site rotation.

Insulin-induced hypertrophy - Small lumps that form under the skin when a person keeps injecting a needle in the same spot. See also: Lipodystrophy; injection site rotation.

Insulin pen - An insulin injection device the size of a pen that includes a needle and holds a vial of insulin. It can be used instead of syringes for giving insulin injections.

Insulin reaction - Too low a level of glucose (sugar) in the blood; also called hypoglycemia. This occurs when a person with diabetes has injected too much insulin, eaten too little food, or exercised without extra food. The person may feel hungry, nauseated, weak, nervous, shaky, confused, and sweaty. Taking small amounts of sugar, sweet juice, or food with sugar will usually help the person feel better within 10-15 minutes. See also: Hypoglycemia; insulin shock.

Insulin receptors - Areas on the outer part of a cell that allow the cell to join or bind with insulin that is in the blood. When the cell and insulin bind together, the cell can take glucose (sugar) from the blood and use it for energy.

Insulin resistance - a condition in which a cell is resistant to insulin action, usually as a result of Type 2 diabetes which is characterized by insulin resistance in about two-thirds of the body's cells (those which require insulin in order to absorb glucose from the blood).

Insulin shock - A severe condition that occurs when the level of blood glucose (sugar) drops quickly. The signs are shaking, sweating, dizziness, double vision, convulsions, and collapse. Insulin shock may occur when an insulin reaction is not treated quickly enough. See also: Hypoglycemia; insulin reaction.

Insulinoma - A tumor of the beta cells in areas of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans. Although not usually cancerous, such tumors may cause the body to make extra insulin and may lead to a blood glucose (sugar) level that is too low.

Intermittent claudication - Pain in the muscles of the leg that occurs off and on, usually while walking or exercising, and results in lameness (claudication). The pain results from a narrowing of the blood vessels feeding the muscle. Drugs are available to treat this condition. Intensive management or Intensive insulinotherapy

Intramuscular injection - Putting a fluid into a muscle with a needle and syringe.

Intravenous injection - Putting a fluid into a vein with a needle and syringe.

Islet cell Transplantation - Moving the beta (islet) cells from a donor pancreas and putting them into a person whose pancreas has stopped producing insulin. The beta cells make the insulin that the body needs to use glucose (sugar) for energy. Transplanting islet cells may one day help many people with diabetes, and the procedure is currently in the experimental stage.

Islets of Langerhans - Special groups of cells in the pancreas. They make and secrete hormones that help the body break down and use food. Named after Paul Langerhans, the German medical student who discovered them in 1869, these cells sit in clusters in the pancreas. There are five types of cells in an islet: beta cells, which make insulin; alpha cells, which make glucagon; delta cells, which make somatostatin; F cells which make pancreatic polypeptide, and D1 cells, about which little is known. The names of the cell types vary with location; in the UK they have slightly different names than in the US.

J [ top ]

Jet injector - A device that uses high pressure to propel insulin through the skin and into the body.

Juvenile onset diabetes - Former term for insulin-dependent or type I diabetes. See: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

K [ top ]

Ketoacidosis - see acidosis

Ketone bodies - Three chemicals produced during ketosis (ie, fat metabolism) and which are released in large quantities during abnormal fat processing. They are, together, quite acidic and if prolonged may lead to acidosis. Oddly, they are not all ketones chemically. The name is a historical leftover, but the chemical smell characteristic of ketoacidosis is an acetone (ie, ketone) smell.

Ketonuria - Having ketone bodies in the urine; a warning sign of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Ketosis - the process of fat metabolism. It is characteristic of ordinary metabolism, but can become abnormal, leading to ketoacidosis under some conditions. It is not uncommon among diabetics, especially type 1 diabetics.

Kidney disease - Any one of several chronic conditions that are caused by damage to the cells of the kidney. People who have had diabetes for a long time may have kidney damage. Also called nephropathy.

Kidneys - organs which produce urine by excreting blood plasma and then resorbing important chemicals. The remainder is urine.

Kidney threshold - The point at which the blood is holding too much of a substance such as glucose (sugar) and the kidneys "spill" the excess sugar into the urine. In most people, the renal threshold for glucose is about twice the normal blood glucose level. See also: Renal threshold.

Kussmaul breathing - The rapid, deep, and labored breathing of people who have ketoacidosis or who are in a diabetic coma. Kussmaul breathing is named for Adolph Kussmaul, the 19th century German doctor who first noted it. Also called "air hunger."

L [ top ]

Labile diabetes - A term used to indicate when a person's blood glucose (sugar) level often swings quickly from high to low and from low to high. Also called brittle diabetes.

Lactic acidosis - A buildup of lactic acid in the body due to anaerobic use of glucose as a fuel. It is normal when exercising beyond your aerobic capacity and recovery is rapid and complete, as the lactic acid is oxidized as fuel when oxygen becomes available (generally after a period of deep breathing).

Lactose - a disacchararide characteristic of milk. It is not very sweet. In humans, it requires a special enzyme to disassemble it during digestion. Most of the species loses this enzyme in adulthood and milk consumed by those deficient in lactase (the enzyme) encounter problems when it becomes available to intestinal bacteria. Some populations do retain the enzyme and they can consume milk in adulthood without trouble. Many milk products have already been processed in such a way as to remove the lactose. Cheeses, most yoghurts, cottage cheese, etc. And milk treated with lactase is also safe for the lactose intolerant.

Lancet - A fine, sharp-pointed blade or needle for pricking the skin.

Laser treatment - Using a special strong beam of light of one color (laser) to heal a damaged area. A person with diabetes might be treated with a laser beam to heal blood vessels in the eye. See also: Photocoagulation.

Latent diabetes - Former term for impaired glucose tolerance. See also: Impaired glucose tolerance.

Lente insulin - A type of insulin that is intermediate-acting, between NPH insulin and ultra-lente insulin.

Limited joint mobility - A form of arthritis involving the hand; it causes the fingers to curve inward and the skin on the palm to tighten and thicken. This condition mainly affects people with Type 1 diabetes.

Lipid - another term for fat / oil. Usually, used in reference to fat in the human body.

Lipoatrophy - Small dents in the skin that form when a person keeps injecting the needle in the same spot. See also: Lipodystrophy.

Lipodystrophy - Lumps or small dents in the skin that form when a person keeps injecting the needle in the same spot.

M [ top ]

Macroangiopathy - See: Angiopathy. .

Macrosomia - Abnormally large; in a diabetes context, ti refers to abnormally large babies that may be born to women with diabetes whose pregnancies are not closely monitored.

Macrovascular disease - A disease of the large blood vessels that sometimes occurs when a person has had diabetes for a long time.

Macular edema - A swelling (edema) in the macula, an area near the center of the retina of the eye that is responsible for fine or reading vision. Macular edema is a common complication associated with diabetic retinopathy. See also: Diabetic retinopathy; retina.

Maturity-onset diabetes - Former term for noninsulin-dependent or type 2 diabetes. See: Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY) - One of at least six rare types of diabetes mellitus caused by genetic defect.

Meal plan - A guide for controlling the amount of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats a person eats. People with diabetes can use such plans as the Exchange Lists or the Point System to help them plan their meals so that they can keep their diabetes under control. See also: Exchange lists; point system.

Metabolism -- metabolism is the sum of all the processes involved in using food to produce chemical energy for cell functions. It is a complex interaction of enzymes, substrates, itnermediate products, etc. diabetes mellitus is a derangement of metabolism.

Metformin - A drug treatment for type 2 diabetes; belongs to a class of drugs called biguanides.

Mg/dL - Milligrams per deciliter. Term used to describe how much glucose (sugar) is in a specific amount of blood. In self-monitoring of blood glucose, test results are given as the amount of glucose in milligrams per deciliter of blood. A fasting reading of 70 to 110 mg/dL is considered in the normal (nondiabetic) range. (This is the standard measurement of blood sugar in the US. The rest of the world uses mmol/l)

Microaneurysm - A small swelling that forms on the side of tiny blood vessels. These small swellings may break and bleed into nearby tissue. People with diabetes sometimes get microaneurysms in the retina of the eye. Microangiopathy - See: Angiopathy.

Microvascular disease - Disease of the smallest blood vessels that sometimes occurs when a person has had diabetes for a long time.

Mixed dose - Combining two kinds of insulin in one injection. A mixed dose commonly combines regular insulin, which is fast acting, with a longer acting insulin such as NPH. A mixed dose insulin schedule may be prescribed to provide both short-term and long-term coverage.

mmol/l - Millimoles per litre. The world-standard (excepting the US) designated SI unit for the measurement of blood sugar levels. It is the concentration by molecular weight in a set amount of liquid.

Mononeuropathy - A form of diabetic neuropathy affecting a single nerve. The eye is a common site for this form of nerve damage. See also: Neuropathy.

Morbidity rate -- the rate at which

Mortality rate -- the rate at which death occurs (usually used as a statistical shorthand in regard to an infection or other condition).

Myocardial infarction -- heart attack. The words mean heart muscle blockage.

Myo-inositol - A substance in the cell that is thought to play a role in helping the nerves to work. Low levels of myo-inositol may be involved in diabetic neuropathy.

N [ top ]

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) One of the 17 institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Public Health Service.

Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum - A skin condition usually on the lower part of the legs. The lesions can be small or extend over a large area. They are usually raised, yellow, and waxy in appearance and often have a purple border. Young women are most often affected. This condition occurs in people with diabetes, or it may be a sign of diabetes. It also occurs in people who do not have diabetes.

Neovascularization - The term used when new, tiny blood vessels grow in a new place, for example, out from the retina. See also: Diabetic retinopathy.

Nephrologist -- a physician specializing in diseases of and treatment of the kidneys

Nephropathy - Disease of the kidneys caused by damage to the small blood vessels or to the units in the kidneys that clean the blood. People who have had diabetes for a long time may have kidney damage.

Nerve conduction studies - Tests to determine nerve function; can detect early neuropathy.

Neurologist -- a physician specializing in diseases of and treatment of the nervous system.

Neuropathy -- nerve damage. In a diabetic context, a chronic complication of diabetes. Damage usually appears in the longest nerves, for reasons we only dimly understand, resulting in lass of sensation to the feet and lower legs. The damage is almost always bilateral. Loss of reflexes is also common. Neuropathy can also affect the hands, motor nerves, and the autonomic system.

NIDDM - See: Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Noninsulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) - Out-of-date name for Type 2 diabetes mellitus. See: Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Noninvasive blood glucose monitoring - A way to measure blood glucose without having to prick the finger to obtain a blood sample. Several noninvasive devices are currently being developed.

Nonketotic coma - A type of coma caused by a lack of insulin. A nonketotic crisis means: (1) very high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood; (2) absence of ketoacidosis; (3) great loss of body fluid; and (4) a sleepy, confused, or comatose state. Nonketotic coma often results from some other problem such as a severe infection or kidney failure.

NPH insulin - A type of insulin that is intermediate-acting.

Nutrition -- food. In a medical context, the term is used technically to refer to propre levels of needed ingredients in the diet. Thus, '...his nutrition has been deficient in the past several weeks, as he is showing signs of scurvy, the deficiency disease associated with inadequate levels of vitamin C'.

Nutritionist - See: Dietitian.

O [ top ]

Obesity -- the condition of having more weight than is best. What is best is less easy to determine. At a gross level, insurance company records can define obesity, or increased understanding of optimum levels of fat can define them. Fashion is the least sensible source of a standard for the proper level of fat in a person.

Obstetrician -- a physician specializing in pregnancy and delivery of children.

OGTT - See: Oral glucose tolerance test.

Ophthalmologist -- a physician specializing in diseases of and treatment of the eyes.

Optometrist - A person professionally trained to test the eyes and to detect and treat eye problems and some diseases by prescribing and adapting corrective lenses and other optical aids and by suggesting eye exercise programs.

Oral hypoglycemic agents - Pills or capsules that people take to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Overt diabetes - Diabetes in the person who shows clear sign/s of the disease such as a great thirst and the need to urinate often.

P [ top ]

Pancreas -- an abdominal organ with multiple functions. It is a ducted organ which produces chemicals used in the intestines for digestion. It is also an endocrine gland producing several hormones in the islets of Langerhans. The most notable of these latter is insulin.

Pancreas transplant - A surgical procedure that involves replacing the pancreas of a person who has diabetes with a healthy pancreas that can make insulin.

Pancreatectomy - A procedure in which a surgeon takes out the pancreas.

Pancreatitis -- inflammation and irritation of the pancreas. Can be caused by several conditions. Infection is one, duct blockage is another.

Peak action - The time period when the effect of something is as strong as it can be such as when insulin in having the most effect on lowering the glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Periodontal disease -- usually an infection or inflammation of the gums.

Periodontist - A specialist in the treatment of diseases of the gums.

Peripheral neuropathy - Nerve damage, usually affecting the feet and legs; causing pain, numbness, or a tingling feeling. Also called "somatic neuropathy" or "distal sensory polyneuropathy."

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) - Disease in the large blood vessels of the arms, legs, and feet. People who have had diabetes for a long time may get this because major blood vessels in their arms, legs, and feet are blocked and these limbs do not receive enough blood.

Peritoneal dialysis - A way to clean the blood of people who have kidney disease. See also: Dialysis.

Pharmacist - practitioner of pharmacy

Photocoagulation - Using a special strong beam of light (laser) to seal off bleeding blood vessels such as in the eye. The laser can also burn away blood vessels that should not have grown in the eye. This is the main treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

Pituitary gland - an endocrine gland at the base of the brain. It is usually called the master gland, for its signals control the operation of most of the other endocrine glands.

Podiatrist - A doctor who treats and takes care of people's feet.

Podiatry - The care and treatment of human feet in health and disease.

Point system - A way to plan meals that uses points to rate food. The foods are placed in four classes: calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each food is given a point value within its class. A person with a planned diet for the day can choose foods in the same class that have the same point values for meals and snacks.

Polydipsia - A great thirst that lasts for long periods of time; a sign of diabetes.

Polyphagia - Great hunger; a sign of diabetes. People with this great hunger often lose weight.

Polyunsaturated fats - A type of fat that usually comes from plants. See also: Fats.

Polyuria - Having to urinate often; a common sign of diabetes.

Postprandial blood glucose - Blood taken 1-2 hours after eating to see the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Preeclampsia - A condition that some women with diabetes have during the late stages of pregnancy. Two signs of this condition are high blood pressure and swelling because the body cells are holding extra water.

Prevalence - rate of happening of something. Example: there is a high prevalence of sleeping amongst humans.

Previous abnormality of glucose tolerance (PrevAGT) - A term for people who have had above-normal levels of blood glucose (sugar) when tested for diabetes in the past but who show as normal on a current test. PrevAGT used to be called either "latent diabetes" or "prediabetes."

Prognosis - Telling a person now what is likely to happen in the future because of having a disease.

Proinsulin - The substance made first in the pancreas that is then made into insulin.

Proliferative retinopathy - damage to the retina caused by growth of small blood vessels. the proliferative variety is dangerous to sight.

Prosthesis - a replacement for a body part. For instance, a foot or leg.

Protein - a class of biochemicals made from amino acids in specific sequences. Proteins can be very large molecules with very specific shapes in folds and sheets, etc. They have three prominent functions in the body. Some varieties are, save for bone, the structural components of cells and so of the body. Other varieties are enzymes, which coordinate the chemical reactions which are required for life: metabolism, protein construction and degradation, reproduction, etc. A smaller third class of proteins are hormones. Insulin, central to diabetes mellitus, is a protein and is a very small one.

Proteinuria - presence of protein in urine, and evidence of serious malfunction of the kidneys as protein is normally very carefully conserved.

Pruritus - Itching skin; may be a symptom of diabetes.

Purified insulins - Insulins with much less of the impure proinsulin. It is thought that the use of purified insulins may help avoid or reduce some of the problems of people with diabetes such as allergic reactions.

R [ top ]

Rebound - A swing to a high level of glucose (sugar) in the blood after having a low level. See also: Somogyi effect.

Regular insulin - A type of insulin that is fast acting.

Renal - A term that means having something to do with the kidneys.

Renal threshold - When the blood is holding so much of a substance such as glucose (sugar) that the kidneys allow the excess to spill into the urine. This is also called "kidney threshold," "spilling point," and "leak point."

Retinopathy - See also: Diabetic retinopathy.

Risk factor - Anything that raises the chance that a person will get a disease. With noninsulin-dependent diabetes, people have a greater risk of getting the disease if they weigh a lot more (20 percent or more) than they should.

S [ top ]

Saccharin - A man-made sweetener that people use in place of sugar because it has no calories.

Saturated fat - A type of fat that comes primarily from animals. See also: Fats.

Secondary diabetes - When a person gets diabetes because of another disease or because of taking certain drugs or chemicals.

Secrete - To make and give off such as when the beta cells make insulin and then release it into the blood so that the other cells in the body can use it to turn glucose (sugar) into energy.

Segmental transplantation - A surgical procedure in which a part of a pancreas that contains insulin-producing cells is placed in a person whose pancreas has stopped making insulin.

Self-monitoring of blood glucose - A way as person can test how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. Also called home blood glucose monitoring. See also: Blood glucose monitoring.

Shock - A severe condition that disturbs the body. A person with diabetes can go into shock when the level of blood glucose (sugar) drops suddenly. See also: Insulin shock.

Sliding scale - Adjusting insulin on the basis of blood glucose tests, meals, and activity levels.

Somatic neuropathy - See: Peripheral neuropathy.

Somatostatin - A hormone made by the delta cells of the pancreas (in areas called the islets of Langerhans). Scientists think it may control how the body secretes two other hormones, insulin and glucagon.

Somogyi effect - A swing to a high level of glucose (sugar) in the blood from an extremely low level, usually occurring after an untreated insulin reaction during the night. The swing is caused by the release of stress hormones to counter low glucose levels. People who experience high levels of blood glucose in the morning may need to test their blood glucose levels in the middle of the night. If blood glucose levels are falling or low, adjustments in evening snacks or insulin doses may be recommended. This condition is named after Dr. Michael Somogyi, the man who first wrote about it. Also called "rebound."

Sorbitol -- a kind of combination alcohol-sugar. A member of the polyol class of chemicals.

Spilling point - When the blood is holding so much of a substance such as glucose (sugar) that the kidneys allow the excess to spill into the urine. See also: Renal threshold.

Split dose - Division of a prescribed daily dose of insulin into two or more injections given over the course of a day. Also may be referred to as multiple injections. Many people who use insulin feel that split doses offer more consistent control over blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Stiff hand syndrome - Thickening of the skin of the palm that results in loss of ability to hold hand straight. This condition occurs only in people with diabetes.

Stroke -- a non-traumatic interruption in the blood supply to an organ. It usually refers to such interruptions in the blood supply to the brain. There are two varieties, the bleeding sort in which a blood vessel leaks blood into tissues. In the brain, these produce hematomas (ie, pools of blood within the skull). The other kind is an ischemic stroke in which the flow of blood is interrupted, often because of vessel blockage by a clot or plaque. Both kill tissue and can cause considerable damage, including death.

Subclinical diabetes - A term no longer used. See: Impaired glucose tolerance.

Subcutaneous injection - Putting a fluid into the tissue under the skin with a needle and syringe. See also: Injection.

Sugar - A class of carbohydrates that taste sweet. Sugar is a quick and easy fuel for the body to use. Types of sugar are lactose, glucose, fructose, and sucrose.

Sulfonylureas - Pills or capsules that people take to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents.

Symptom - A sign of disease. Having to urinate often is a symptom of diabetes.

Syndrome - A set of signs or a series of events occurring together that make up a disease or health problem.

Syndrome X/Metabolic syndrome - DM type II clustered with other diseases that feature insulin resistance

Systemic - A word used to describe conditions that affect the entire body. Diabetes is a systemic disease because it involves many parts of the body such as the pancreas, eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves.

Systolic blood pressure - See: Blood pressure.

T [ top ]

Team management - Describes a diabetes treatment approach in which medical care is provided by a physician, physician assistant, diabetes educator, dietitian, and behavioral scientist working together with the patient.

Thrush - An infection of the mouth. In people with diabetes, this infection may be caused by high levels of glucose (sugar) in mouth fluids, which helps the growth of fungus that causes the infection. Patches of whitish-colored skin in the mouth are signs of this disease.

Tolazamide - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents. (Tolinase™)

Tolbutamide - A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills. See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents. (Orinase™)

Toxemia of pregnancy (preeclampsia) - A condition in pregnant women involving high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and edema. It can harm both mother and child, but resolves after delivery. The first signs of toxemia are swelling near the eyes and ankles (edema), headache, high blood pressure, and weight gain that the mother might confuse with the normal weight gain of being pregnant. The mother may have both glucose (sugar) and acetone in her urine. The mother should tell the doctor about these signs at once. Women who become diabetic during their pregnancies have a 15% higher chance of developing preeclampsia; women who are diabetic before becoming pregnant have a 30% chance of developing preeclampsia.

Toxic - Harmful; having to do with poison.

Transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS) - A treatment for painful neuropathy.

Twenty-four hour urine - The total amount of a person's urine for a 24-hour period.

Diabetes mellitus type 1 - It is a chronic condition in which the pancreas makes little or no insulin because the beta cells have been destroyed. About two-thirds of body cells require insulin to absorb glucose and in its absence, they will not be able to use the glucose (blood sugar) for energy. Type 1 diabetes usually comes on abruptly, although the damage to the beta cells may begin much earlier. Typical signs of Type 1 diabetes are a great thirst, hunger, a need to urinate often, and loss of weight. To treat the disease, the person must inject insulin, follow a diet plan, exercise daily, and test blood glucose several times a day. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and adults who are under age 30. This type of diabetes used to be known as "insulin-dependent diabetes," "juvenile diabetes," "juvenile-onset diabetes" and "ketosis-prone diabetes."

Diabetes mellitus type 2 - The most common form of diabetes mellitus; about 90 to 95 percent of people who have diabetes in the developed world have Type 2 diabetes. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas makes no insulin, people with Type 2 diabetes produce some insulin, sometimes even large amounts. However, either their bodies do not produce enough insulin or their body cells are resistant to insulin (see Insulin Resistance). People with Type 2 diabetes can often control their condition by losing weight through diet and exercise. If not, they may need to combine insulin or a pill with diet and exercise. Generally, Type 2 diabetes occurs in people who are over age 40. Most of the people who have this type of diabetes are overweight. This type of diabetes used to be known as "noninsulin-dependent diabetes," "adult-onset diabetes," "maturity-onset diabetes," "ketosis-resistant diabetes" and "stable diabetes."

U [ top ]

Ulcer - A break in the skin; a deep sore. People with diabetes may get ulcers from minor scrapes on the feet or legs, from cuts that heal slowly, or from the rubbing of shoes that do not fit well. Ulcers can become infected.

Ultralente insulin - A type of insulin that is long acting.

Unit of insulin - The basic measure of insulin. U-100 insulin means 100 units of insulin per milliliter (mL) or cubic centimeter (cc) of solution. Most insulin made today in the United States is U-100.

Unsaturated fats - A type of fat. See also: Fats.

Unstable diabetes - A type of diabetes when a person's blood glucose (sugar) level often swings quickly from high to low and from low to high. Also called "brittle diabetes" or "labile diabetes."

Urine testing - Checking urine to see if it contains glucose (sugar) and ketones. Special strips of paper or tablets (called reagents) are put into a small amount of urine or urine plus water. Changes in the color of the strip show the amount of glucose or ketones in the urine. Urine testing is the only way to check for the presence of ketones, a sign of serious illness. However, urine testing is less desirable than blood testing for monitoring the level of glucose in the body. See also: Blood glucose monitoring; reagents.

V [ top ]

Vaginitis - An infection of the vagina usually caused by a fungus. A woman with this condition may have itching or burning and may notice a discharge. Women who have diabetes may develop vaginitis more often than women who do not have diabetes.

Vascular - Relating to the body's blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries).

Vitrectomy - Removing the gel from the center of the eyeball because it has blood and scar tissue in it that blocks sight. An eye surgeon replaces the clouded gel with a clear fluid. See also: Diabetic retinopathy.

Vitreous humor - The clear jelly (gel) that fills the center of the eye.

X [ top ]

Xylitol - A sweetener found in plants and used as a substitute for sugar; it is called a nutritive sweetener because it provides calories, just like sugar.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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