Glossary of Diabetes Care Terms 

A1C: A test that measures someone’s average blood sugar level over the previous two to three months. 

Acute: Something that occurs suddenly for a short length of time.

Basal Rate: A constant low level of long-acting insulin.

Beta Cell: A cell located in the pancreas that makes insulin in the body.

Blood Glucose: The main source of the body’s energy that food is turned into that’s found in blood.

Blood Sugar Level: The amount of blood sugar in your body.

Blood Glucose Meter: A portable machine used by people with diabetes to check their blood sugar levels. 

Blood Glucose Monitoring: Checking blood sugar levels regularly in order to manage diabetes.

Bolus: An extra amount of insulin taken due to a rise in blood sugar levels.

C-Peptide: A substance the pancreas puts into the bloodstream in levels equal to insulin.

Carbohydrate: A food the body uses for energy. Starches, fruits, dairy, vegetables, and sugars are all considered carbs.

Carbohydrate Counting: Counting the number of carbs in food as a way to plan meals for people with diabetes. 

Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A set of conditions that can determine if you develop diabetes or heart disease.

Chronic: The opposite of acute; Something that lasts for a long period of time.

Combination Therapy: Using two or more medications to manage blood sugar levels. 

Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM): A CGM is a device used for monitoring blood glucose on a continual basis by insulin-requiring people with type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes.

Dawn Phenomenon: When blood sugar levels rise and stay at high levels in the morning, usually between 4 am to 8 am. 

Desensitization: Reducing response such as an allergic reaction to something. For example, if someone has diabetes and has frequent low blood sugar (blood glucose) levels (hypoglycemia) the body may not react with the same symptoms that would signal that there’s a problem.

Diabetes: A disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.

Diabetes Educator: A healthcare provider that teaches people how to manage diabetes.

Diabetes Insipidus: A diabetic condition that causes frequent urination, excessive thirst, and weakness.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis: When high blood sugar levels and low insulin levels cause a buildup of ketones in a person's urine and blood. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, sweet breath smell, rapid breathing, and abdominal pain.

Diabetic Mastopathy: A breast condition that can occur in long-time diabetes patients.

Diabetic Myelopathy: Spinal cord damage due to diabetes. 

Diabetic Retinopathy: Eye disease related to diabetes that may result in loss of vision.

Diabetogenic: Something that causes diabetes.

Diabetologist: A doctor who specializes in diabetes treatment.

Dialysis: The process of cleaning wastes from the blood artificially due to a loss of kidney function.

Dietitian: A healthcare professional who is an expert in meal planning and weight control, as well as diabetes management. 

Endocrine Glands: Cells that release hormones into the body. 

Endocrinologist: Healthcare providers that specialize in treating endocrine disorders.

Euglycemia: A typical level of glucose in the blood.

Exchange Lists: A diabetic meal planning technique in which foods are placed into three groups of nutritional content. The lists provide the serving sizes for carbohydrates, meat and meat alternatives, and fats. 

Fasting Blood Glucose Test: Someone’s blood glucose level measurement after not eating for 8 to 12 hours. This typically is taken upon waking up after sleep and before eating breakfast.

Fingerstick: A blood test conducted on capillary blood obtained by pricking the finger.

Gestational Diabetes: This condition occurs when diabetes is onset during pregnancy and usually goes away after childbirth. 

Glucose Tablets: Chewable tablets that treat hypoglycemia. 

Glycemic Index: How much a carbohydrate food affects your blood sugar levels compared with other foods. 

Hyperglycemia: High blood sugar. 

Hyperinsulinemia: When the insulin level is higher than normal.

Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar.

Hypoglycemia Unawareness: When someone with diabetes does not recognize being in a state of hypoglycemia. 

Insulin: A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy.

Insulin Adjustment: A change in the amount of insulin a person with diabetes takes.

Insulin Resistance: The body's inability to respond to and use the insulin it produces. 

Insulin Stacking: The accumulation of short-acting insulin in the bloodstream which can occur when insulin injections are given too close together. 

Intensive Therapy: A treatment for diabetes in which blood sugar is kept at normal levels.

Lancet: A tool used to obtain a drop of blood for blood glucose level measuring.

Mixed Dose: A combination of two types of insulin in one injection. 

Noninvasive Blood Glucose Monitoring: Measuring blood sugar (blood glucose) without pricking the finger to obtain a blood sample.

Pancreas: An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. 

Prediabetes: A condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. 

Preprandial Blood Glucose: Blood sugar (blood glucose) level before eating.

Sliding Scale: Adjusting insulin based on activity and meal planning.

Starch: Another term for carbohydrate. 

Sugar: A class of carbohydrates with a sweet taste, including glucose, fructose, and sucrose. 

Type 1 Diabetes: Also known as "juvenile diabetes" or "insulin-dependent diabetes," this is a chronic condition where the pancreas makes little to no insulin. 

Type 2 Diabetes: Also known as "adult-onset diabetes," this chronic condition causes too much sugar to be in the bloodstream due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin.

Ultralente Insulin: Long-acting insulin. 

Unit of Insulin: The basic measure of insulin. U-100 insulin means 100 units of insulin per milliliter (mL) or cubic centimeter (cc) of solution. 


Common Terms | ADA. (n.d.).