Understanding DiabetesJen Adamski | 06.10.2022
Diabetes adversely affects almost one billion people worldwide. It’s a complex and complicated disease that has many associated causes (poor diet, lack of access to health information) and effects (heart disease, stroke, etc.). Because of its complexity there are hundreds of terms that an individual with diabetes will have to understand as they live with either type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes. The following glossary can be a starting point for diabetes patients to better learn and understand the many terms associated with this disease. Included are a mixture of basic and more advanced terms that, along with a healthcare provider or caregiver’s support, can give a well-rounded understanding of diabetes.Defining terms
The most important terms concern diabetes itself. What is the disease and what are the different types?Definition of Diabetes/Diabetes mellitus
Often known as simply, diabetes. Blood sugars are high because there is not enough insulin or because insulin is not effective. The most common types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.Types of diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes
Diabetes caused by a person’s own immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells (auto-immunity) in the body. There is not enough, or no insulin may be produced. Almost two million in the U.S.
- Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes caused by not enough insulin being secreted to counteract high blood sugars from insulin resistance. This is the more common form of diabetes with over 35 million cases.
- Gestational diabetes
Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy. Nearly 10 percent of U.S. pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes.
A hormone released (along with insulin) from beta cells, which decreases glucose levels during meals.
- Basal infusion profile
The amount of insulin delivered through an insulin pump every half hour or hour over a 24-hour period to provide overnight, fasting, and between-meal insulin replacement.
- Beta cells
Specialized cells, which make and release the hormone insulin, that are found in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.
- Blood glucose
The main sugar that provides the body with a source of fuel that is carried through the bloodstream. Too high blood glucose levels (along with other problems) can lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Blood sugar rebound
A hormone reaction by the body to a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) incident that results in high blood sugar. This is also known as the Somogyi effect.
- Body mass index (BMI)
BMI is a measurement to determine if a person is considered underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. It’s calculated by taking a person’s weight in kilograms (or pounds), then dividing by the square of height in meters (or feet).
- Congestive heart failure
A serious condition that includes a weakening of the heart’s pumping ability due to adverse changes in the heart muscle. This leads to the heart being too weak to pump the necessary blood throughout the body.
- Continuous glucose sensors
Body-worn sensors that continuously measure glucose levels and displays it on a monitor.
This hormone can be harmful because it increases blood sugar by making fats and muscles more resistant to naturally occurring insulin. Its levels may be increased during times of stress.
- Dawn phenomenon
An early-morning rise in blood sugar levels that could stay higher throughout the morning.
- DSME: Diabetes Self-Management Education
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
A serious condition caused due to not enough insulin in the body. The body breaks down fat and muscle for energy, producing ketones. If untreated, can lead to coma and death.
- Diabetic mastopathy
A rare condition suffered by both women and men occurring in the fibrous breast tissue. The condition happens in those with long-standing diabetes. The non-malignant lumps can be surgically removed.
- Diabetic neuropathy
A serious condition meaning nerve damage caused by diabetes.
- Diurnal insulin sensitivity
This sensitivity is based on biological changes in the body’s response to insulin throughout a 24-hour period.
This is considered a normal level of glucose in the blood.
- Extended bolus
When using an insulin pump to deliver a constant stream of bolus insulin over a designated period of time programmed by the pump user.
A naturally occurring simple sugar in fruits that is absorbed directly into the blood during digestion.
A diabetes nerve disease that affects the stomach and delays the passage of food into the intestines. It can cause unpredictable blood sugar control after meals.
- Gestational diabetes
A type of diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy that can be controlled through diet and exercise. The pregnant woman did not have a diagnosis before becoming pregnant.
- GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1)
This is a hormone that is released in the stomach that helps lower sugars during meals.
A hormone made by islet cells in the pancreas that helps regulate the production of glucose and ketones in the liver. It can be injected to treat severe low blood sugar.
The process of breaking down starch into glucose molecules.
- Hemoglobin A1c
This test is a measure of average blood glucose over the previous 3 months. Glucose attaches to hemoglobin in red blood cells (which live about 3 months), so the percentage reflects the sugar exposure to the cells over that time.
When blood sugar levels are low.
A hormone made by the beta cells in the pancreas that is the main regulator of the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.
- Insulin concentration
The number of units of insulin per milliliter. In the United States, insulin concentration is 100 units per milliliter.
- Insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio
This is a personalized formula that translates into how many grams of a carbohydrate will be disposed of by a unit of insulin.
The area of the pancreas that houses beta cells.
When glucose is in short supply, the body produces alternate fuel by breaking down fats. This process is called ketogenesis.
- Macrovascular disease
When lipids and blood clots build up in large blood vessels of the body which can cause diseases like coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, or peripheral vascular disease.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to this kidney disease which causes damage to the kidneys resulting in protein leaking into the urine. The kidneys cannot remove waste and extra fluids from the bloodstream.
A synthetic hormone that is injectable and lowers the blood sugar levels after meals. It is used to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
When blood vessels in the back of the eye break down due to diabetes.
- Serum creatinine
When muscle breaks down a waste product in the blood is created. These serum creatinine levels are used as an index of proper kidney function.
- Ultralente insulin
This is a type of long-lasting insulin that begins to lower blood sugars with four to six hours. The most potent effects happened between 10 and 18 hours and continues to work 24-28 hours after injection.