A1C: This is a very important blood sugar (“glucose”) test that tells you what your average blood sugar level has been for the past 90 days- not just at the moment you take the test. This is a very good test to determine if your blood sugar is in control, or if you have or are likely to have diabetes. This is a laboratory test you can only get from a medical clinic. You should definitely ask for this test if you are at risk for diabetes: If it runs in your family or if you are overweight.
ACE Inhibitor: An oral medicine that lowers blood pressure; It also helps slow down kidney damage for people with diabetes, especially those who have protein (albumin) in their urine.
Acute: An illness that happens severely and suddenly and for a short time; opposite of chronic.
Antibodies – Proteins that your body makes to protect itself from bacteria and viruses.
ARB (Angiotensin Receptor Blocker): A type of oral medication used to lower blood pressure.
Autoimmune disease: A disorder which causes the body’s own immune system to attack and destroy its own body tissue it mistakenly considers to be a foreign threat to your health.
Beta-blocker: A medication that relaxes the heart and improves the heart’s pumping ability. Used in cases of hypertension, heart attacks, heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Beta Cell: A cell that makes and releases insulin and is located in the islets of the pancreas.
Blood glucose (Also called blood sugar): The main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy. Your body makes and distributes blood glucose through your cells and blood to give you energy and to function.
Blood glucose level: The amount of glucose in a given amount of blood. It is noted in milligrams in a deciliter, or mg/dL.
Blood glucose meter (Also called “Glucometer”): A small, portable machine used by people with diabetes to check their blood glucose levels. After pricking the skin with a lancet, one places a drop of blood on a test strip in the machine. The meter (or monitor) soon displays the blood glucose level as a number on the meter’s digital display. Diabetics MUST check their blood glucose every day. Basically, a normal range would be between 70 to 140. This depends on whether you are diabetic, non-diabetic, pre-diabetic, what you ate, medications you have taken, stress levels, time of day, and other factors.
Blood pressure: The force of blood used on the inside walls of blood vessels. Blood pressure is expressed as a ratio (example: 120/80, read as “120 over 80”). The first number is the systolic pressure (the pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries). The second number is the diastolic pressure (the pressure when the heart rests).
Blood vessels: Tubes that carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, veins, and capillaries.
B.M.I.: This is short for “Body Mass Index” which is a guide that tells you how much body fat you have compared to your height and is used to measure if you are at a healthy weight, are overweight, or obese (very overweight), or morbidly obese (severely overweight).
Calorie: A unit of heat energy usually used to define a food’s nutrition. Everyone needs to consume about 1500 to 2000 calories per day.
Carbohydrate (“Carbs” for short): This is the main source of fuel for your body. Carbohydrates include starches and sugars and are usually found in breads, tortillas, pastas, milk, sweets, and even fruits and vegetables. Carbs are turned into a sugar in your body called glucose. You must watch how much carbs you eat just as much as you do with calories, fat, sodium, etc.
Cardiologist: A doctor who specializes in the heart and vascular system.
Cardiovascular system: This is the heart and system of blood vessels to and from it. It is the way blood is pumped from the heart and circulated throughout the body. As blood circulates, it carries nourishment and oxygen to all of the body’s tissues. It also removes waste products out of it.
Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE): A health care professional with expertise in diabetes education who has met eligibility requirements and successfully completed a certification exam.
Cholesterol: A fat-like substance found in the blood, muscle, liver, brain, and other tissues in people and animals. The body makes and needs some cholesterol. Too much cholesterol, however, may cause fat to build up in the artery walls and cause a disease that slows or stops the flow of blood.
Chronic: Describes a disease or condition that is long lasting; opposite of acute.
Circulation: The flow of blood through the body’s blood vessels and heart.
Clinical trials: These are carefully controlled studies that are conducted to test the effectiveness and safety of new and experimental medications, medical products, or techniques that have not been approved yet. All medications in the U.S. go through clinical trials before being approved.
Creatine: A waste product coming from activity in the muscles. Kidneys can normally remove this from the blood but too much creatine in the blood is a sign that the kidneys are losing their ability to function normally.
Diabetes Mellitus (“Diabetes”): A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use sugar as it should. The body needs “glucose” (a form of sugar in your body) for growth and energy for daily activities. It gets this sugar when it changes food into glucose. A hormone called insulin is needed for the glucose to be taken up and used by the body. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make use of the glucose in the blood for energy because either the pancreas is not able to make enough insulin or the insulin that is available is not effective. The beta cells in areas of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans usually make insulin. There are 3 main types of Diabetes Mellitus: Type 1, Type 2, and “Gestational” Diabetes. Some researchers are currently theorizing that a “3rd Type” of Diabetes aside from Gestational may lead be a form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetic Coma: A coma that results in severe hypoglycemia (very low blood glucose/sugar levels) that may result quickly in death if not treated extremely urgently.
Diabetic Retinopathy: Damage to the retina of the eye; the thin, light-sensitive inner lining in the back of the eye. This damage occurs to small blood vessels in the retina which are easily harmed by high levels of glucose in the blood. Diabetes Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the United States!
Dialysis: A medical process that filters the waste in the blood (using a kidney machine) from patients whose kidneys are not functioning properly. Diabetics with uncontrolled diabetes often suffer from kidney problems (renal failure).
Endocrinologist: A doctor who specializes in problems with the endocrine glands. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder.
Epidemiology – The study of disease patterns in human populations and their various causes.
Fasting blood glucose test: A blood test in which a sample of your blood is drawn after fasting (not eating) overnight to measure the amount of glucose in your blood. This test tells you and your doctor if you have diabetes or how well or badly your diabetes is doing.
Fructosamine test: A blood test that can detect overall changes in blood glucose control over a shorter time-span than the “A1C test”, usually about 2-3 weeks. If rapid changes are being made to your diabetes treatment plan such as diet, exercise, or changes in your medications; this test can quickly tell your doctor and you how these changes are working and whether other changes should be considered.
Gastroparesis: A condition in which “Neuropathy” (nerve damage) affects the nerves controlling the digestive tract and causes difficulty digesting food. Gastroparesis can cause nausea, vomiting, bloating or diarrhea.
Fast-acting insulin: A type of insulin that begins to lower blood glucose within 10 to 30 minutes and works hardest 30 minutes to 3 hours after injection. There are three approved fast-acting insulins: Lispro, Aspart and Glulisine.
Fasting: Not eat or drink anything for a period of time. This is especially important to schedule doctor exams in the morning and not to eat anything or even chew gum 12 hours before diabetes testing (A1C), other blood tests, and other examinations.
Fatty Acids: An organic acid that is a part of fat.
Fish Oils: Are taken from tissues of oily fish (like salmon) and are recommended for a healthy diet.
Gangrene: The death of body tissue. It is most often caused by a loss of blood flow. The skin/body becomes hard and black in color.
Genes: These determine the physical characteristics (or “traits”) that an organism inherits, such as the color of a eyes or hair, or baldness. Diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions, and other physical or mental disorders may also be caused by malfunctioning genes. See “Hereditary”.
Genetics: The study of the function and behavior of genes.
Gestational Diabetes: A condition in which pregnant women, without a history of diagnosed diabetes, show high blood glucose levels. This usually goes away with the birth of a child but also may develop into diabetes without intervention.
Glucometer: See “Blood Glucose Meter”.
Glucose: See Blood glucose.
Glucose Test: This is the test that diabetics give themselves daily to check if their blood sugar levels (“glucose”) are at the right level- not too high or too low. This is a simple test that usually needs a tiny drop of blood from the finger. This test is also given sometimes at Health Fairs.
Glucose Fasting Test (or “Glucose Tolerance Test”): Aside from the “AIC Test”, THIS is the very best laboratory test available used to determine if you have diabetes. It measures how quickly glucose (sugar) is cleared from the blood by drinking a very sugary usually orange colored drink. After 2 hours if your glucose rises to over 200 mg/kl you are diagnosed with diabetes This test is not as common as the Glucose Fasting Test. Other diabetes tests are the “AIC” and “Glucose Fasting Tests”
HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein, also called the “Good” cholesterol”): A type of blood cholesterol that takes the extra cholesterol from your blood back to the liver where it is reprocessed or discarded.
Hemoglobin: A protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Hereditary: These are your “Family Genes” which are physical characteristics, diseases, or even personality/social behaviors handed down through your direct blood family. Examples are diseases such as diabetes, the color of your hair or eyes, or being a quite or outgoing type of person. Persons may or may not inherit these traits or they might skip one or several generations.
High Blood Pressure (Also called “Hypertension):
Hormones: Chemical messengers in the body that help regulate and maintain different functions.
Hormones – chemical messengers made in one part of the body to transfer “information” through the bloodstream to cells in another part of the body. Insulin is a hormone.
Human Insulin: Man-made insulins that are similar to insulin produced by your own body. Human insulin has been available since October 1982.
Hyperglycemia (High blood sugar): A high level of blood glucose (sugar) circulating in your blood. Blood glucose is generally considered “high” when it is 160 mg/dl or above. Generally, you should go to the Emergency Room immediately if your blood sugar level is above 300 and your prescribed dose of insulin is not lowering it; and especially if you feel very thirsty, are urinating frequently, feel nauseated, are having trouble breathing, feel stomach pain, have a fruity smell in your breath, and of course if you lose consciousness. If your glucometer keeps reading very high numbers after taking insulin, make sure your glucometer is not defective and not giving you an incorrect number.
Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar): A low level of blood glucose (sugar) circulating in your blood. Generally, you should go to the Emergency Room immediately if your blood sugar level is below 60 and does not rise within minutes after drinking orange juice, soda, sugar, food, or glucose tables; and especially if you feel very weak or are trembling, have a lack of coordination, feel very drowsy or confused, feel a bad headache, dizziness, double vision, convulsions, and of course if you lose consciousness. It is better to be safe than sorry as very low blood sugar can result in a Diabetic Coma or death!
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Blood pressure that is above the normal range 120/80 [120 over 80]. High blood pressure increases your risk of getting a heart attack, stroke, and kidney problems.
Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG): A fasting glucose level between 100 mg/dl and 125 mg/dl. Fasting blood test results between these levels mean that you have pre-diabetes.
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) A blood glucose level after a 2-hour glucose tolerance test between 140 and 199 mg/dl. This means you have pre-diabetes.
Insulin Pump: A devise that checks (monitors) your body’s blood sugar level and automatically gives you the dose your body needs.
Insulin: This is a natural chemical in your body made in the pancreas that controls and regulates your glucose (blood sugar). It is also made into a very important medication all Type 1 diabetics need daily and some Type 2 diabetics need. Diabetics need this to make sure their blood sugar is at a normal level and not too high or too low.
Insulin Pen: An insulin injection device the size of a pen that includes a needle and holds a vial of insulin. It can be used instead of syringes for giving insulin injections.
Insulin Pump: A device that delivers a continuous supply of insulin into the body. Insulin is delivered at two rates: a low, steady rate (called the basal rate) for continuous daylong coverage, and extra boosts of insulin (called bolus doses) to cover meals or when extra insulin is needed. The pump runs on batteries and can be worn clipped to a belt or carried in a pocket.
Insulin resistance: A condition that makes it harder for the cells to properly use insulin.
Islet cells: Cells that make insulin and are found within the pancreas; also called “Pancreatic beta cells”.
Islet cell transplantation: Transplanting islet beta cells that produce insulin from a donor pancreas into a person whose pancreas no longer produces insulin.
LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein, also called the “Bad cholesterol”): A type of blood cholesterol that is considered “bad” because it can be deposited in the arteries, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Lifestyle changes: Changes you make to your eating habits and physical activity in order to control your blood glucose, lose weight, and improve your all around physical and mental health.
Ketoacidosis (also called diabetes ketoacidosis or “DKA”) A condition that results from not enough insulin in the body, leading to high blood glucose levels and the forming of ketones. This is an extremely serious and life-threatening condition that may lead to coma or death. The symptoms of ketoacidosis are nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, chest pain, rapid shallow breathing, and difficulty staying awake.
Ketones: An acidic compound that can develop and accumulate fast in diabetes. May be detected in the urine! Ketones an be a sign of dehydration (not enough water in your body).
Kidney disease: (see Renal failure)
Metabolism: The body process that breaks down food and transforms it into energy. Also used to mean how fast or efficient this process works in your particular body.
Metformin: A drug currently being used as a common treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome: A group of illnesses that increase the risk of developing vascular diseases (heart disease, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease). The most familiar parts of this syndrome are an overweight stomach (“abdominal obesity”), high blood pressure (hypertension), high triglycerides (part of the lipid profile), low HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and glucose intolerance.
Metabolism: The process in which your body’s cells change food so that it can be used for energy or so that it can be used to build or maintain cells and tissues.
Mg/dL (Milligrams per deciliter): A word used to describe how much blood glucose (sugar) is in a specific portion of your blood. In self-monitoring of blood glucose, test results are given as the amount of glucose in milligrams per deciliter of blood. A fasting reading of 70 to 110 mg/dL is considered in the normal (non-diabetic) range.
Nephrologist: A doctor that specializes in kidney disease.
Neuropathy: Nerve damage that causes pain or loss of feeling usually in the feet and legs. This makes it more difficult for diabetics to know if they have pain, a cut, or something wrong with their feet, which causes them not to notice a small cut that can quickly turn into an infection and amputation if not treated. There are two main types of neuropathy, depending on which nerve cells are damaged. One type is called sensory neuropathy, which affects feelings in the legs or hands and is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. The other type is autonomic neuropathy, which affects nerves that control various organs, such as the stomach or urinary tract.
Non-proliferative retinopathy: The first stage in “Diabetic Retinopathy” when high levels of blood glucose causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina of the eye. The blood vessels leak fluid, which can collect and cause the retina to swell. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the United States!
Obesity: Being overweight that is very extreme and unhealthy (sometimes called “morbid obesity”)
Omega 3, 6, and 9: Types of fat, usually from fish, that has been shown to reduce coronary heart disease, increase circulation, and reduce blood pressure.
Ophthalmologist: A doctor that specializes in conditions of the eyes, not to be confused with an Optometrist which is an eyeglass doctor.
Organic: Natural foods such as produce (fruits & vegetables), or meats (beef, chicken, fish, etc.) that is grown or raised naturally without the use of man-made chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, additives, dyes, or other unnatural or harmful means.
Oral medications (also called “anti-diabetes medications” or “diabetes pills”): Medications taken by mouth which are used in combination with a nutritional meal plan and physical activity and sometimes with insulin to control blood glucose levels.
Pancreas: An organ behind the lower part of the stomach that is about the size of a hand. It regulates our body’s blood sugar levels (glucose) by producing insulin so that the body can use this glucose for energy. It also makes enzymes that helps the body digest food.
Pancreas Transplant: A surgical procedure that involves replacing the pancreas of a person who has diabetes with a healthy pancreas that can make insulin. The healthy pancreas comes from a donor who has just died or from a living relative. A person can donate half a pancreas and still live normally.
At present, pancreas transplants are usually performed in persons with insulin-dependent diabetes who have severe complications. This is because after the transplant the patient must take immunosuppressive drugs that are highly toxic and may cause damage to the body.
Periodontal Disease: Damage to the gums. People who have diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people who do not have diabetes.
Podiatrist: A doctor that specializes in the care and treatment of the feet and legs and many times diabetes infection control.
Polyunsaturated Fat: A type of fat that comes from fish, nuts, seeds, and plant oils that often helps lower your blood cholesterol levels.
Pre-Diabetic: A word used when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Persons with Pre-Diabetes must take immediate action to lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy to avoid contracting Type 2 Diabetes.
Prognosis: An explanation by a doctor to a patient that is likely to happen in the future because of having a condition or disease such as diabetes.
Protein: Proteins in the diet serve primarily to build and maintain cells that are vital in the body’s development and metabolism.
Saturated Fat: A fat from food from animals that is solid at room temperature. “Polyunsaturated” is a type of saturated fat. Saturated fats raise blood cholesterol levels by interfering with the access of cholesterol into cells causing cholesterol to remain in the bloodstream longer and to become a part of the plaque that builds up in the blood vessels.
Self-monitoring (also called diabetes self-management”): Controlling your diabetes by checking blood glucose, healthy eating and portion controls, exercise, taking medications correctly, reducing stress, and how each of these work together in order to keep blood glucose and diabetes in good control.
Stroke: A disease caused by severe damage to the blood vessels in the brain. Depending on the part of the brain affected, a stroke can cause a person to lose the ability to speak or move a part of the body such as an arm or a leg. Usually only one side of the body is affected.
Systemic: A word used to describe conditions that affect the entire body. Diabetes is a systemic disease because it involves many parts of the body such as the pancreas, eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves.
Team Management: A diabetes treatment plan in which medical care is provided by a physician, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, and behavioral scientist working together with the patient.
Trans fats: A type of unhealthy fat made through the chemical process of hydrogenation of oils which involves changing a liquid oil into a solid fat. Trans fats are found in processed foods such as junk foods, quick/convenience foods, fast foods, and some stick or solid margarines. They can raise cholesterol levels and should be eaten in as small amounts as possible.
Triglycerides: A type of fat stored in fat cells as body fat and burned for energy. High levels of triglycerides are linked with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
Type 1 Diabetes: About 5% to 10% of all diabetics are Type 1 and this type usually begins in young children and young adults up to around 30 yrs old. Type 1 diabetics must inject themselves with insulin daily because their bodies do not produce ANY or very little insulin. There is little Type 1 diabetics can do to prevent this type.
Type 2 Diabetes: About 90% to 95% of all diabetics are Type 2 and this usually or normally occurs in adults 30 yrs and older. Due to childhood obesity, more children, teens, and young adults under 30 are getting Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas or body cells do not produce enough insulin or does not distribute it correctly in your body. The most common causes for Type 2 diabetes is obesity, bad nutrition, and family history.
Unsaturated fat (both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated): Fats that comes primarily from vegetables and are liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats also help lower blood cholesterol levels and may help to raise HDL cholesterol levels.
Vascular: Relating to the body’s blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries
Vitrectomy surgery: A method to remove the blood and scar tissue from within the eye that can frequently successfully restore vision.
Wellness: A holistic approach to health that attempts to create both a healthy body and mind. This approach to healthcare stresses preventing illness and prolonging quality of life, as opposed to treating diseases.
Wound Care: This is care for diabetic wounds, ulcers, cuts, etc. that diabetics can get. Podiatrists, Infection Specialists, or other doctors carefully using aggressive infection control antibiotics, and/or minor surgery usually do this.