Diabetic Lexicon

As a diabetic, I have my unique set of vocabulary. And I realize that not everyone reading may know what I’m talking about and why I do things the way I do. So – here are some definitions to commonly used terms I throw around.

Fasting blood glucose test
A method of finding out how much glucose or sugar is present in the blood after fasting for 8 hours.

Type 1 Diabetes (What I have…) (T1)
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus occurs when a person permanently loses the ability to produce insulin or has become insulin-dependent. Specifically, the islets of Langerhans – located in the pancreas – lose the beta cells which produce insulin. Without insulin, glucose levels rise causing sugar diabetes. The chief cause of this beta cell loss is an autoimmune attack. Type One (1) Diabetes Mellitus is irreversible and has no connection to diet or exercise.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2)
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is also referred to as adult-onset diabetes, maturity-onset diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. The pancreas maintains the ability to keep producing insulin but one of three conditinos can occur: defective insulin secretions, insulin resistance or reduced insulin sensitivity. Reduced insulin sensitivity seems to lead all causes due to obesity, the leading cause of Type Two (2) diabetes mellitus. Fat around the waist secretes hormones (adipokines) that almost makes obese people allergic to glucose. As a result, insulin levels increase and oral medication becomes the preferred treatment.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDs)
Gestational diabetes, in simplified form, is Type Two (2) Diabetes Mellitus that occurs in women during pregnancy. For reasons many do not understand, the pancreas either fails to produce enough insulin or the body fails to respond to insulin secretions. Gestational diabetes affects 2-5% of pregnant women and can improve or even disappear after pregnancy.

Glucose
The main carbohydrate fuel (energy) in the blood.

Glycated hemoglobin test (HbA1c)
Determines effective (or ineffective) management of diabetes. Hemoglobin is a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. It can also attach to sugar in the blood forming a substance called glycated hemoglobin or a Hemoglobin A1C. The test provides an average blood glucose measurement over a 6-12 week period and is used in conjunction with home glucose monitoring to make treatment adjustments. The ideal range for people with diabetes is generally less than 7%. (I’m currently at 7%.)

Insulin
A hormone produced by the pancreas in the Islets of Langerhans that helps the body process glucose for cell energy.

Insulin pump
A small, computerized device – about the size of a small cellphone – that releases a steady flow of insulin into the body.

Insulin resistance
When insulin does not do its job properly. Can occur in overweight people and even with high daily doses of insulin.

Pancreas
An organ in the abdomen that produces chemicals that aid in digestion. It also manufactures insulin which breaks down glucose for cell energy.

Peak action
When the effect of something is at its strongest, i.e., when insulin has the most effect in lowering blood glucose levels.

Hyperglycemia
High, above average blood glucose levels. Common amongst diabetics.

Hypoglycemia
Lower than average blood glucose levels. Common amongst diabetics where there’s too much insulin and not enough glucose.

Insulin reaction
Also called hypoglycemia. Occurs when a diabetic injects too much insulin, eaten too little or has exercised without ingesting a sufficient amount of food.

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6 thoughts on “Diabetic Lexicon

  1. John L says:

    What’s that term you use when you program your pump to give an extra dose of insulin? That’s another one you throw around a bit.

    • seejendance says:

      Bolus. Yes, let me define those.

      Diabetics and health care professionals use bolus to refer to a dosage of fast-acting insulin with a meal (as opposed to basal rate, which is a dose of slow-acting insulin or the continuous pumping of a small quantity of fast-acting insulin to cover the glucose output of the liver.) (Source: Wikipedia)

      In my insulin pump, I use the same type of insulin to essentially serve both functions. When I want to eat, I program the pump to give a pre-programmed amount of insulin based on the carbs in my meal. (A bolus.) My basal dose is supplied by small amounts of insulin distributed continuously over each hour. (Which is why I can’t disconnect my pump for more than an hour.)

    • seejendance says:

      Glad I can help, Kayleigh. The definitions are actually all at the link noted at the top of the post. So, if you are looking for more commonly used terms, they are most likely there.

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