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Diabetes Dictionary

Use the diabetes dictionary to learn common terms used when discussing type 1 or type 2 diabetes and blood sugar control.

A1C - A blood test that indicates average blood sugar over the past 3 months.

Blood Glucose - The main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy; also called blood sugar.

Blood Glucose Meter - A handheld device that tests blood sugar (glucose) levels. A drop of blood, obtained by pricking a finger, is placed on a small strip that is inserted in the meter, which measures and displays the blood sugar level.

Blood Sugar Monitoring - Checking blood sugar (glucose) levels on a regular basis in order to manage diabetes. A blood glucose meter is needed for frequent blood sugar monitoring.

Blood Sugar - Sugar in the form of glucose in the blood; also called blood glucose.

Blood Sugar Level - The amount of sugar (glucose) in a given amount of blood. It is reported as the number of milligrams of glucose in 100 milliliters of blood, or mg/dL.

Carbohydrate - One of the 3 main nutrients in food. Foods that provide carbohydrate include starches, breads, sweets, vegetables, fruits, milk products, and sugars.

Counting Carbohydrates - A method people with diabetes can use when planning meals that requires counting all carbohydrates consumed in food. Since carbohydrates cause an increase in blood sugar, keeping track of the amounts that are eaten will allow you to understand how carbohydrates affect your blood sugar.

Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) - A healthcare professional with expertise in diabetes education who has met eligibility requirements and successfully completed a certification exam.

Diabetes Food Exchange List - A system designed for meal planning for people with diabetes that involves using lists of foods grouped by type (fats, fruits, meats, milk, starch, etc). Each food is broken down into detailed nutritional information based on serving size, making it easy to exchange one food in a group for another, based on the nutritional information. These exchange lists simplify making good food choices and allow for variety in the diet, while ensuring the proper balance of calories and nutrients necessary for a healthy diet.

Dietitian - A trained health professional who provides nutrition education and dietetic services. Dietitians advise on what foods to eat to help people lead healthy lives and achieve health-related goals.

Dose - The amount of a medicine to be taken at one time.

Endocrinologist - A specially trained doctor who diagnoses diseases that affect glands. Endocrinologists know how to treat conditions that can be complex and involve many systems within the body.

Fat - One of the 3 main nutrients in food. Foods that provide fat include butter, margarine, lard, shortening, salad dressing, oil, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, and some dairy products. Excess calories are stored as body fat, providing the body with a reserve supply of energy.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) - A condition in pregnant women characterized by high blood sugar caused by the body's inability to use the insulin as effectively as it should during pregnancy.

Glucagon-like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) Receptor Agonists - A class of type 2 diabetes drugs that mimic the effects of a naturally occurring hormone from the intestines and can help the body make more of its own insulin. GLP-1 receptor agonists help to lower blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Glucose - The major source of energy for cells; most glucose comes from carbohydrates. Because glucose is carried to each cell through the bloodstream, it is often called blood glucose or blood sugar.

Hormone - A chemical produced in one part of the body and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular functions of the body. For example, insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that allows glucose into the cells for energy.

Hyperglycemia - Also called high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia can happen when the body does not have enough insulin or when the body does not use insulin as effectively as it should. Symptoms may include excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry skin, blurred vision, and fatigue, or no symptoms at all.

Hypoglycemia - Also called low blood sugar. Symptoms may include sweating, trembling, hunger, dizziness, moodiness, confusion, and blurred vision, or no symptoms at all.

Insulin - Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin is necessary for glucose (sugar) to be able to enter certain cells of the body and be used for energy.

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.

Ketones - Chemical substances that are made by the body when fat is used as a fuel source instead of glucose. When ketones build up to a great extent in the body, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can develop. If untreated, DKA could result in serious illness, coma, or death.

Lancet - A spring-loaded device used to prick the skin with a small needle to obtain a drop of blood for blood sugar monitoring.

Longer-Acting or Basal Insulin - Insulin that keeps your blood sugar stable between meals and overnight. Also called background insulin.

Pancreas - An organ located behind the lower part of the stomach that produces the hormones insulin and glucagon and releases them into the bloodstream to help manage blood sugar levels. The pancreas also produces digestive enzymes.

Prediabetes - A condition that occurs when a person has blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Premixed Insulin - A combination of a rapid-acting or a short-acting insulin with a longer-acting insulin.

Protein - One of the 3 main nutrients in food. Foods that provide protein include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, dairy products, eggs, and dried beans. Proteins are used in the body to build cells, to create insulin and other hormones, and to perform other functions.

Rapid-Acting Insulin - Insulin that starts to work quickly (usually within 15 minutes) after injection, with its peak activity (strongest effect) lasting only a few hours.

Sharps Container - A container for disposal of used needles, syringes, and lancets; often made of hard plastic so that needles cannot poke through.

Short-Acting Insulin - Insulin that starts to work within 30 to 60 minutes after injection, with its peak activity (strongest effect) lasting 2 to 4 hours, and an overall duration of 5 to 8 hours.

Type 1 Diabetes - A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by a lack of insulin production. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults and accounts for approximately 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to survive.

Type 2 Diabetes - A disease characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body's inability to use insulin as effectively as it should. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults who are obese or overweight, but can appear in young people. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting approximately 90% or more of people living with diabetes.

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