We’re Saying the Same Thing But Using Different Words: General Diabetes Care

The healthcare world is full of all kinds of lingo. In fact, you may meet two different medical professionals who refer to the same diabetes “thing” with different terms. Your family or friends may use yet another term. So, I’m continuing my series on bringing together “layman’s” terms and medical jargon into one neat package. This time with a focus on general diabetes care.

Understanding general diabetes terms

Annual review: Term used to describe yearly diabetes self-management training (DSMT) typically covered under most insurance plans and available through diabetes centers. Other descriptions: DSMT, DSME, diabetes education, diabetes care and education, diabetes program, diabetes review, diabetes support plan.

Adult-onset diabetes: Describes a type of diabetes defined by both insulin resistance and low insulin secretion. Other descriptions: type 2 diabetes, T2D, non-insulin-dependent diabetes (although some people with type 2 diabetes require insulin), insulin-resistant diabetes.

Glucose*: Refers to the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. Can be measured by lab work or using a glucometer. Other descriptions: sugar level, blood sugar, blood level, glucose, blood glucose. *When checking your blood sugar, checking can be referred to as: monitoring, testing (testing is a term we try to avoid, but you may still hear it used), fingerstick, “check my blood,” “measure my blood.”

Diabetes progression*: Describes the body’s declining ability to make enough insulin for its needs.  Other descriptions: beta-cell decline, natural progression of diabetes. *Often the term “diabetes progression” is used interchangeably with “diabetes complications”.  This is inaccurate because the decline of insulin production happens regardless of the number of complications one may, or may not, develop.

Endocrinologist: A doctor who specializes in the treatment of hormone disorders, like diabetes.  Other descriptions: diabetes specialist, “diabetes doctor”, diabetologist.

Euglycemia: Refers to blood sugar levels that are in a healthy range. Other descriptions: normal blood sugars, safe blood sugars, healthy glucose levels, target range.

Glucotoxicity: A term used to describe the body’s struggle to release and use insulin well during periods of persistent high blood sugars. Other descriptions: chronic hyperglycemia-related beta-cell defects, glucose toxicity, beta cell impairment.

Hyperglycemia: Refers to blood sugar levels that are above a healthy range. Other descriptions:  high blood sugars, high glucose levels, unsafe blood sugars, unhealthy glucose levels, elevated glucose.

Hypertension: Refers to blood pressure levels that are above a healthy range. Other descriptions:  high blood pressure, high pressure.

Hyperlipidemia: Refers to cholesterol levels that are above a healthy range. Other descriptions:  high cholesterol, elevated lipids.

Hypoglycemia: Refers to blood sugar levels that are below a healthy range. Other descriptions: low blood sugars, “low”, unsafe blood sugars, unhealthy glucose levels, “insulin coma”, “insulin shock”.

Insulin resistance: A term used to describe how the body struggles to use insulin well. Other descriptions: “severe insulin resistance”, high insulin demands, high insulin needs.

Monofilament test:  An exam that's done routinely to check the sensation (feeling) in one’s toes and feet, usually done in combination with a foot exam. Other descriptions: “the tickle test”, “sensation test”, “sensation check”, comprehensive foot exam, annual foot check, “checking my feet.”

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