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Glossary of Type 2 Diabetes Terms

A

Amylin

A hormone released from beta cells that decreases glucose levels during meals.1,2

Anemia

A condition where there are less red blood cells than normal. This causes a decrease in oxygen transferred to the body’s cells.1

Antibodies

Proteins that are produced by the body for protection against bacteria and viruses. When the body produces antibodies that harm the body’s beta cells (which create insulin), people develop type 1 diabetes.1

Artery

A larger blood vessel that delivers blood with oxygen from the heart to every part of the body.1

Autoimmune disease

A disorder where the immune system destroys body tissue it believes is foreign.1

B

Basal infusion profile

The amount of insulin that is delivered every half hour or hour over 24 hours to provide background/basal insulin replacement.2

Background or basal insulin replacement

The insulin required to maintain blood sugar overnight, during fasting, and between each meal.2

Beta cells

Specialized cells that create insulin; located in the pancreas.1,2

Blood glucose

The primary sugar that is the source of energy for the body. It is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to every cell in the body.1,2

Bolus

A dose of insulin used to correct a rise in blood sugar, often related to a meal or snack.1,2

C

Carbohydrates

One of the 3 primary nutrients in food. Carbohydrates can either be sugar or multiple sugars strung together. Foods that provide carbohydrates include:1,2

  • Starches
  • Fruits
  • Sugars
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy products

Cholesterol

A type of fat that is produced by the liver. Cholesterol is found in the blood and in certain foods. It is made by the body to make hormones and build cell walls. Problems with cholesterol can affect blood flow through blood vessels.1,2

D

Diabetes (diabetes mellitus)

A condition where the body’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal. This is due to lack of insulin in the body or if the insulin is ineffective. The most common types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.1,2

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

An emergency condition where a lack of insulin results in the breakdown of body fat for energy and an increase of ketones in the blood and urine. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and death. Signs of DKA include:1,2

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Breath that smells fruity

Dialysis

Dialysis is often needed when diabetic kidney disease leads to a loss of kidney function. Healthy kidneys clean wastes from the blood. Dialysis uses special equipment to clean wastes from the blood artificially. The 2 major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.1,2

E

Endocrine glands

A group of specialized cells that release hormones into the blood and other parts of the body.1

F

Fasting blood glucose

A test of a person's blood sugar level after the person has not eaten for 8 to 12 hours. This is one of the tests used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes. It also uses results from a blood glucose meter to assess how effectively a person’s diabetes is being treated.1

Fat

One of the 3 main nutrients in food. Excess calories are also stored as body fat, providing the body with a reserve supply of energy. Fats taken in from food are classified as saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are preferred for health reasons.1,2

G

Gestational diabetes

A type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It usually disappears upon delivery, but the risk the mother will develop diabetes later increases.1,2

Glucagon

A hormone produced by a group of cells in the pancreas. Glucagon raises blood glucose (blood sugar) and helps regulate the production of glucose and ketones in the liver. Glucagon can also be injected to treat severe low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.1,2

Glucose

A simple sugar that is the main source of energy for the body.2

Glycosuria

Having glucose in your urine.1

H

Hemoglobin A1c

A measure of how well your blood glucose was controlled over the previous 3 months.2

Hyperglycemia

High blood glucose (blood sugar).1

Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to unconsciousness. Signs of hypoglycemia include:1,2

  • Hunger
  • Nervousness
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion

I

Insulin

A hormone made by the beta cells in the pancreas that helps the body use glucose for energy. Insulin is the primary regulator of the amount of sugar that is in the bloodstream.1,2

Insulin pen

A device for injecting insulin. It can be disposable or reusable.1,2

Insulin pump

A small device used to deliver insulin. Pumps can release insulin at meals and at times when blood glucose (blood sugar) is too high.1,2

Insulin resistance

When the body is unable to respond to and use the insulin it produces. Insulin resistance is linked to:1,2

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High levels of fat in the blood

K

Ketones

Chemicals produced when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood and the body breaks down body fat for energy. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).1,2

L

Lipoatrophy

Loss of fat under the skin that causes small dents. Lipoatrophy may be caused by repeated injections of insulin in the same area.1

Lipohypertrophy

A buildup of fat below the surface of the skin, causing lumps. Lipohypertrophy may be caused by repeated injections of insulin in the same spot.1

M

Macrovascular disease

Disease of the large blood vessels where lipids and blood clots build up in the large blood vessels. This can lead to diseases such as:1

  • Atherosclerosis (blood vessel hardening and narrowing)
  • Coronary heart disease (which can keep your heart from getting enough oxygen)
  • Peripheral vascular disease (which keeps blood from reaching everywhere it needs to in the body)

Metabolism

The process of cells chemically changing food so that it can be used by the body to store or use energy. This also allows the body to make the proteins, fats, and sugars it needs.1

Microvascular disease

Disease of the smallest blood vessels. The walls of the vessels become weaker, which causes them to crack and bleed.1

N

Nephropathy

Disease of the kidneys. Hyperglycemia and high blood pressure (hypertension) can damage the kidneys. When the kidneys are damaged, protein leaks out of the kidneys into the urine. Damaged kidneys can no longer remove waste and extra fluids from the bloodstream.1

Neuropathy

Disease of the nervous system. The 3 major forms of neuropathy in people with diabetes are:1

  • Peripheral neuropathy (the most common, which affects mainly the legs and feet)
  • Autonomic neuropathy (affects organs including the lungs, stomach, and intestines)
  • Mononeuropathy (affecting 1 nerve)

O

Oral glucose tolerance test

A test given by a healthcare professional to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes and analyze how the body uses glucose over a period of time:1,2

  • A blood sample is taken from the person being tested
  • The person drinks a high-glucose beverage
  • Samples of the person’s blood are taken at preset intervals

P

Pancreas

A glandular organ that produces hormones such as glucagon and insulin. It also secretes enzymes into the intestine for digestion. It is located behind the lower part of the stomach.1,2

Prediabetes

A condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at higher risk for:1

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

Protein

A molecule made up of chains of amino acids. Protein is one of the 3 main nutrients in food. Proteins are used in the body for cell structure and are essential for cells to function properly.1,2

R

Retinopathy

An eye disease that is caused by damage to the small blood vessels in the retina or the back of the eye. Retinopathy can cause a loss of vision.1,2

S

Sucrose

A 2-part sugar made of glucose and fructose (a sugar that comes from fruits and honey).1

Syringe

A device used to inject medications or other liquids into body tissues. Made up of a hollow plastic tube with a plunger inside and a needle on the end.1

T

Triglyceride

Stored fat in the body that it gets from food. When diabetes is out of control, high triglyceride levels can occur.1,2

Type 1 diabetes

A condition characterized by high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels caused by a lack of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is caused by a person’s own immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells (autoimmunity). This keeps the body from producing enough (or any) insulin.1,2

Type 2 diabetes

A condition characterized by high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels caused by a deficiency of insulin in the body or when the body is unable to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.1,2

U

Urologist

A doctor who treats people who have urinary tract problems. A urologist also provides help with genital conditions, such as impotence.1

V

Vascular

Relating to the body's blood vessels.1

Vein

A blood vessel that delivers blood to the heart.1