Below is a list of diabetes-related terms and their definitions which you can find throughout the published stories.

a test that measures a person’s average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months. Hemoglobin is the part of a red blood cell that carries oxygen to the cells and sometimes joins with the glucose in the bloodstream. Also called hemoglobin A1C, the test shows the amount of glucose that sticks to the red blood cell, which is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood.

alpha cell
a type of cell in the pancreas. Alpha cells make and release a hormone called glucagon. The body sends a signal to the alpha cells to make glucagon when blood sugar falls too low. Then glucagon reaches the liver where it tells it to release glucose into the blood for energy.

is a normal emotion that causes increased alertness, fear, and physical signs, such as a rapid heart rate.

is an injection that contains insulin glulisine. Insulin glulisine is a fast-acting insulin that starts to work about 15 minutes after injection, peaks in about 1 hour, and keeps working for 2 to 4 hours. (find a full list of insulin here)

a dietary sweetener with almost no calories and no nutritional value.

autoimmune disease
disorder of the body’s immune system in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.

basal rate
a steady trickle of low levels of longer-acting insulin, such as that used in insulin pumps.

is a long-acting human insulin used for blood glucose (sugar) control in adult and pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes, and in adults with type 2 diabetes.

a cell that makes insulin. Beta cells are located in the islets of the pancreas.

blood sugar
the main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.

blood sugar 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
a small, portable machine used by people with diabetes to check their blood sugar 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 sugar level as a number on the meter’s digital display.

an extra amount of insulin taken to cover an expected rise in blood glucose, often related to a meal or snack.

one of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide carbohydrates are starches, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and sugars.

carbohydrate counting
a method of meal planning for people with diabetes based on counting the number of grams of carbohydrates in a portion of food.

Celiac disease
Coeliac disease or celiac disease is a long-term immune disorder that primarily affects the small intestine. Classic symptoms include gastrointestinal problems such as chronic diarrhea, abdominal distention, malabsorption, loss of appetite, and among children failure to grow normally.

continues glucose monitor

describes something that is long-lasting. Opposite of acute.

harmful effects of diabetes such as damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, teeth and gums, feet and skin, or kidneys. Studies show that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels close to normal can help prevent or delay these problems.

Dario glucose meter
a brand of glucose monitor

dead in bed syndrome (DIB)

a brand of a glucose monitor

Dextrose, also called glucose
simple sugar found in the blood that serves as the body’s main source of energy.

Diabulimia is an eating disorder in which people with type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need or stop taking it altogether for the purpose of weight loss.

diabetes educator
a health care professional who teaches people who have diabetes how to manage their diabetes.

diabetes mellitus
a condition characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from the body’s inability to use blood sugar for energy. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin and therefore blood sugar cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. In Type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly.

a health care professional who advises people about meal planning, weight control, and diabetes management. A registered dietitian (RD) has more training

a doctor who treats people who have endocrine gland problems such as diabetes.

Enlite sensor
a brand of a continuous glucose monitor

is new, faster-acting mealtime insulin, developed by Novo Nordisk with the objective of achieving a faster initial absorption, to improve glycemic control after a. meal, in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Freestyle Libre sensor
a brand of continuous glucose monitor

is a sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and honey. Fructose has 4 calories per gram.

a hormone produced by the alpha cells in the pancreas. It raises blood glucose. An injectable form of glucagon, available by prescription, may be used to treat severe hypoglycemia.

one of the simplest forms of sugar.

glucose tablets
chewable tablets made of pure glucose used for treating hypoglycemia.

glycemic index
a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods, based on the food’s effect on blood sugar compared with a standard reference food.

the form of glucose found in the liver and muscles.


excessive blood glucose. Fasting hyperglycemia is blood sugar above a desirable level after a person has fasted for at least 8 hours. Postprandial hyperglycemia is blood sugar above a desirable level 1 to 2 hours after a person has eaten.

a condition that occurs when one’s blood sugar is lower than normal, usually less than 70 mg/dL. Signs include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, and confusion. If left untreated, hypoglycemia may lead to unconsciousness. Hypoglycemia is treated by consuming carbohydrate-rich food such as a glucose tablet or juice. It may also be treated with an injection of glucagon if the person is unconscious or unable to swallow. Also called an insulin reaction.

hypoglycemia unawareness
a state in which a person does not feel or recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia. People who have frequent episodes of hypoglycemia may no longer experience the warning signs of it.

inserting liquid medication or nutrients into the body with a syringe. A person with diabetes may use short needles or pinch the skin and inject at an angle to avoid an intramuscular injection of insulin.

is a long-acting insulin. It can be given once or twice a day, with or without fast-acting insulin.

a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, it is taken by injection or through the use of an insulin pump.

insulin pen
a device for injecting insulin that looks like a fountain pen and holds replaceable cartridges of insulin. Also available in disposable form.

insulin pump
an insulin-delivering device about the size of a deck of cards that can be worn on a belt or kept in a pocket. An insulin pump connects to narrow, flexible plastic tubing that ends with a needle inserted just under the skin. Users set the pump to give a steady trickle or basal amount of insulin continuously throughout the day. Pumps release bolus doses of insulin (several units at a time) at meals and at times when blood sugar is too high, based on programming done by the user.

juvenile diabetes
former term for insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), or Type 1 diabetes.

a chemical produced when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood and the body breaks down body fat for energy. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and coma. Sometimes referred to as ketone bodies.

a ketone buildup in the body that may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis. Signs of ketosis are nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

stands for Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood. LADA is a form of type 1 diabetes that develops later into adulthood. LADA tends to develop more slowly than type 1 diabetes in childhood and, because LADA can sometimes appear similar to type 2 diabetes, doctors may mistakenly diagnose LADA as type 2 diabetes.

is a long-acting insulin used to treat type 1 or type 2 diabetes in adults, and type 1 diabetes in children who are at least 6 years old.

LDL cholesterol
a fat found in the blood that takes cholesterol around the body to where it is needed for cell repair and also deposits it on the inside of artery walls. Sometimes called “bad” cholesterol.

long-acting insulin
a type of insulin that starts to lower blood sugar within 4 to 6 hours after injection and has its strongest effect 10 to 18 hours after injection. See ultralente insulin.

Medtronic 670G pump
a brand of insulin pump

Medtronic 640G pump
a brand of insulin pump

mixed dose
a combination of two types of insulin in one injection. Usually a rapid- or short-acting insulin is combined with longer-acting insulin (such as NPH insulin) to provide both short-term and long-term control of blood sugar levels.

millimoles per liter, a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid. In most of the world, except for the United States, blood sugar test results are reported as mmol/L. In the United States, milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are used. To convert to mmol/L from mg/dL, divide mg/dL by 18. Example: 180 mg/dL × 18 = 10 mmol/L.

is extremely fast-acting insulin, and works rapidly to normalize blood sugar levels. It typically begins working after 10-20 minutes and will last for between 3 and 5 hours.

is a fast-acting insulin that begins to work very quickly. After using it, you should eat a meal within 5 to 10 minutes.

an organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.

a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and for heart disease and stroke. Other names for pre-diabetes are impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glucose.

premixed insulin
a commercially produced combination of two different types of insulin. See 50/50 insulin and 70/30 insulin.

rapid-acting insulin
a type of insulin that starts to lower blood sugar within 5 to 10 minutes after injection and has its strongest effect 30 minutes to 3 hours after injection, depending on the type used.

regular insulin
short-acting insulin. On average, regular insulin starts to lower blood sugar within 30 minutes after injection. It has its strongest effect 2 to 5 hours after injection but keeps working 5 to 8 hours after injection.

secondary diabetes
a type of diabetes caused by another disease or certain drugs or chemicals.

in diabetes, the ongoing process of managing diabetes. Includes meal planning, planned physical activity, blood sugar monitoring, taking diabetes medicines, handling episodes of illness and of low and high blood glucose, managing diabetes when traveling, and more. The person with diabetes designs his or her own self-management treatment plan in consultation with a variety of health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and others.

short-acting insulin
a type of insulin that starts to lower blood sugar within 30 minutes after injection and has its strongest effect 2 to 5 hours after injection.

a two-part sugar made of glucose and fructose. Known as table sugar or white sugar, it is found naturally in sugar cane and in beets.

1. A class of carbohydrates with a sweet taste, including glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
2. A term used to refer to blood glucose.

a device used to inject medications or other liquids into body tissues. The syringe for insulin has a hollow plastic tube with a plunger inside and a needle on the end.

T Slim insulin pump
a brand of insulin pump

is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Toujeo contains a form of insulin called insulin glargine, which is classified as long-acting insulin.

Type 1 diabetes
a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by a total lack of insulin. Occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults.

Type 2 diabetes
a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.

very-long-acting insulin
a type of insulin that starts to lower blood sugar within 1 hour after injection and keeps working evenly for 24 hours after injection.

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic & Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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