diabetes term definition

17 Basic Terms for Diabetics

We provide a lot of information about diabetes on our blog and social media pages. But, let’s admit it: most us are due for a refresher of the basic diabetic terms. We went ahead and hand-picked 17 of the most basic and important ones that you might hear as a diabetic. These definitions will cover different types, testing complications and information on diabetes affects your body giving you a better understanding of the disease and how to control it. Study hard and impress your healthcare provider… Happy Testing!

First and foremost, there are 3 basic types of diabetes and a condition known as prediabetes. Each of these have their own causes and usually treatments.

  1. Type 1: People who have Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, do not produce insulin, which is needed for your body to use glucose for energy, so they need to take insulin to regulate their blood sugar level.
  2. Type 2: The most common form of diabetes is Type 2; with this form, you either don’t produce enough insulin or your body doesn’t use it efficiently enough.
  3. Gestational: Gestational diabetes affects some pregnant women about halfway through their pregnancies. Women who have gestational diabetes are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
  4. Prediabetes: a condition when your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are higher than normal but haven’t quite reached the threshold to be diagnosed as diabetes

Next, read below for terms used in testing diabetes, both at-home and at your doctor’s office.

  1. A1C: your average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months; this is reported as a percent; it doesn’t measure your day-to-day control
  2. Blood glucose meter: a machine that tests a drop of your blood to gauge your blood glucose level
  3. eAG: estimated average glucose; this is a newer way to report A1C that uses the same units (mg/dl) as a glucose meter
  4. Hyperglycemia: when your blood sugar levels are too high; this usually happens when you don’t have enough insulin or your body’s not using it effectively
  5. Hypoglycemia: low blood sugar; when levels get too low in a person with diabetes, it can be very dangerous

There are numerous different chemicals and organs that are affected by your diabetes. Although a bit technical, these definitions are important!

  1. Blood glucose: a type of sugar in your blood that is a source of fuel
  2. Glucagon: a hormone produced in the pancreas; also a medicine used to raise very low blood sugar
  3. Insulin: blood sugar; your body needs this to process glucose and use it as energy
  4. Islets: cells inside the pancreas that produce insulin
  5. Ketones: substances produced when fat cells break down in the blood

Finally, there are some complications that can result from the lack of care. Be sure to stay disciplined and test often to avoid the following problems!

  1. Diabetic retinopathy: damage caused to your eyes by a history of uncontrolled or poorly controlled blood sugar levels
  2. Metabolic syndrome: a group of conditions that put you at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease; one of the conditions is elevated blood sugar levels
  3. Neuropathy: tingling or numbness or a lack of sensation, often in the extremities

Definitions courtesy of the Plain Language Medical Dictionary, which is part of the Michigan Health Literacy Awareness project, MedlinePlus, and the American Diabetes Association

By: DiabeticCare editorial team; Published: 6-27–2013, 2:00 PM

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