Terms associated with diabetes


Adrenalin is a hormone released by the body in reaction to stress.

Adult-onset diabetes

Adult-onset diabetes is the former term for non-insulin dependent, or type 2 diabetes and is not usually used any more.

Alpha cells

Alpha cells are found in the Islets of Langerhans within your pancreas. Produce glucagon, a hormone which inturn causes an increase in the blood sugar level.


Amputation is the surgical removal of a limb or part of a limb. People with diabetes may be at increased risk for gangrene, and possible amputation due to nerve damage in the legs and feet.

Animal insulin

Animal insulin is the original form of insulin derived from the pancreas of cows and pigs.


Arteriosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. This condition can occur with aging, in hypertension and diabetes.

Beef insulin

Beef insulin a form of insulin derived from the pancreas of cows.

Beta cells

Beta cells are found in the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. Their function is to produce insulin.

Blood glucose meters

Blood glucose meters are machines designed to test blood glucose levels from a drop of blood placed on a test strip. This is inserted into the meter for analysis and the result is displayed. Blood glucose meters allow people to help self manage their diabetes.

Blood pressure

Blood pressure refers to the pressure exerted by blood flow on artery walls. People with diabetes should aim for a blood pressure of 130 / 80 or lower.


Calorie is a measurement of the energy provided by food. Calories come from carbohydrates, proteins, alcohol and fats.


A capillary is the smallest blood vessel. Capillary walls are so thin that oxygen and glucose can pass through them and enter the cells. Waste products, such as carbon dioxide, pass back into the bloodstream via the capillaries to be carried away and expelled from the body.


Carbohydrates are one of the major sources of calories in the diet. It comes primarily from sugar (found in refined fruits and vegetables) and starch (found in grains and legumes). Carbohydrate breaks down into glucose during digestion and raises blood glucose levels.


Cataracts are a grey-white film that can cover the lens of the eye, obscuring vision. They tend to occur in people over 50 years of age, but can occur at a younger age and advance more rapidly in the presence of diabetes. If left untreated, cataracts can cause blindness.


A chiropodist is a health professional who diagnoses and treats disorders of the feet.


Cholesterol is a type of fat which occurs naturally in our bodies and is also found in animal fats. Too much saturated fat and dietary cholesterol may be associated with arteriosclerosis.


Coma is a state of unconsciousness. In diabetes, it may result from a variety of causes including severe hypoglycemia or severe ketoacidosis.


C-peptide is formed in the beta cells of the pancreas therefore a test of C-peptide levels indicates the amount of beta cell function occurring in the pancreas.


Creatinine is a compound present in the muscles and blood that is passed in the urine.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease in which the small blood vessels (capillaries) in the back of the eye (retina) may bleed or form new vessels. This condition usually occurs in people with long-standing diabetes. Regular eye examinations are an important part of diabetes management.


Diabetes is a condition in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. (see Gestational Diabetes, type 1 Diabetes, type 2 Diabetes)

Diabetes control and complications trial (DDCT)

The diabetes control and complications trial was a nine year study during the 1990s designed to test whether persistently high blood sugar levels are related to the development of complications in people with type 1 diabetes. The results demonstrated that intensive treatment of individuals with type 1 diabetes can delay the onset and progression of long-term complications in people.


Dialysis is a method of removing waste products and excess water from the body when the kidneys no longer function adequately.


An endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating people who have problems related to their endocrine system, which includes diabetes.


Epidemiology is the study of the occurrence, distribution and causes of diseases in mankind.

Familial occurrence

Familial occurrence refers to the pattern of a disease within a family. Family and twin studies have shown that type 2 diabetes is far more likely to run in families than type 1 diabetes.


Fat is the most concentrated source of calories in a diet. Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products and unsaturated fats come from plants. Excess intake of fat, especially saturated fat, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.


Fibre is a type of material within foods mainly found in vegetables, fruits and cereals that adds bulk to the diet aiding digestion.


Gangrene is the death of body tissues usually due to loss of blood supply to the affected area, followed by bacterial invasion.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy due to a deficiency of insulin during pregnancy that disappears following delivery. Women who have had gestational diabetes are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.


Glucagon is a hormone produced by the pancreas that stimulates the liver to produce large amounts of glucose. It is given by injection for hypoglycemia and generally restores blood sugar within five to ten minutes.


Glucose is a simple form of sugar that acts as fuel for the body. It is produced during digestion of carbohydrate and carried to the cells in the blood.


Glycogen is the main carbohydrate storage material, which is stored in the liver and muscles for use when energy is required.


Glycosuria refers to an increased amount of sugar in the urine. It is usually an indication of an elevated blood glucose level.

Glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C)

Glycosylated hemoglobin is a measure of your average blood glucose level over the past 2 - 3 months.


Hormones are the substances released into the bloodstream from a gland or organ. Hormones control growth and development, reproduction, sexual characteristics, blood sugar levels and influence the way the body uses and stores energy.

Human Insulin

Human Insulin is a bio-synthetic insulin created in the 1990s using recombinant-DNA technology.

Hyperglycemia (also Hyperglycaemia)

Hyperglycemia is a condition caused by greater than normal levels of glucose in the blood. Symptoms include thirst, frequent urintation and fatigue.


Hyperlipoproteinemia is the presence in the blood of greater than normal amounts of certain lipids and other fatty substances in the blood.


Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure.

Hypoglycemia (also Hypoglycaemia)

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which blood glucose levels drop too low. Symptoms may include sweating, trembling, hunger, dizziness, moodiness, confusion blurred vision and hunger.


Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas in response to increased levels of glucose in the blood.

Insulin lipodystrophy

Insulin lipodystrophy is the loss of fatty tissue that can occur as a result of repeated insulin injections in the same area.

Insulin pump

An insulin pump is a portable, battery-operated device that delivers a specific amount of insulin through a small needle inserted under the skin. It can be programmed to deliver constant doses throughout the day and / or deliver extra insulin as required throughout the day.

Insulin receptors

Insulin receptors are areas on the outer walls of a cell that permit insulin to bind to the cell. When cells and insulin bind together, the cell is able to take glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy.

Insulin shock

Insulin shock is another term used for hypoglycemia or low blood sugar (see hypoglycemia)


Ischemia is an inadequate supply of blood to body tissues or organs. It can occur if blood vessels are narrowed or constricted.

Islets of langerhans

Islets of langerhans are clusters of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, glucagons and pancreatic polypeptide.

Juvenile-onset diabetes

Juvenile-onset diabetes now known as type 1 diabetes.


Ketones are chemicals produced by the liver when the body cannot use glucose and must break down fat for energy. Ketones can poison and even kill body cells. When ketones build up, the body gets rid of them in the urine. Ketones that accumulate in the body over long periods of time can lead to serious illness and coma.


Ketoacidosis is a severe complication of diabetes that is the result of high blood sugar levels and ketones often associated with poor control of diabetes or as a complication due to other illnesses.


Obesity is an abnormal increase in the proportion of fat cells. Obesity may be accompanied by other signs of poor health and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Oral agents

Oral agents are medications, taken by mouth, for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

The oral glucose tolerance test is a test of the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrate. It is performed by giving a standard dose of glucose and measuring the blood and urine for glucose at regular intervals.


The pancreas is a fish-shaped grayish-pink nodular gland that stretches transversely across the posterior abdominal wall in the epigastric region that secretes various substances such as digestive fluid, insulin and glucagons. It is divided into a head, a body, and a tail, and is about 13cm long in adults.


A podiatrist is a health professional who diagnoses and treats disorders of the feet.

Pork insulin

Pork insulin is a form of insulin available in Canada that is derived from the pancreas of pigs.


Protein is one of the major sources of calories in a diet. Found in meats, eggs, milk and some vegetables and starches, protein provides the body with material for building blood cells, hormones and body tissue.


Sugar is a simple form of carbohydrate that provides calories and raises blood glucose levels.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (or insulin-dependent diabetes) occurs when the pancreas no longer produces any or very little insulin. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or adolescence and affects 10% of people with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to meet the body's needs or the insulin is not metabolized effectively. Type 2 usually occurs later in life and affects 90% of people with diabetes.

Urine tests

Urine tests measure substances, such as blood glucose or ketones, present in the urine.

Vascular disease

Vascular disease is a disease of the blood vessels.


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