Diabetes Dictionary





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a spring-loaded device used to prick the skin with a small needle to obtain a drop of blood for blood glucose monitoring.

Laser surgery treatment

a type of therapy that uses a strong beam of light to treat a damaged area. The beam of light is called a laser. A laser is sometimes used to seal blood vessels in the eye of a person with diabetes. See photocoagulation.

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA)

a condition in which Type 1 diabetes develops in adults.

Limited joint mobility

a condition in which the joints swell and the skin of the hand becomes thick, tight, and waxy, making the joints less able to move. It may affect the fingers and arms as well as other joints in the body.

Lipid (LIP-id)

a term for fat in the body. Lipids can be broken down by the body and used for energy.

Lipid profile

a blood test that measures total cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is then calculated from the results. A lipid profile is one measure of a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.


an organ in the body that changes food into energy, removes alcohol and poisons from the blood, and makes bile, a substance that breaks down fats and helps rid the body of wastes.

Long-acting insulin

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

Macrovascular disease (mack-roh-VASK-yoo-ler)

disease of the large blood vessels, such as those found in the heart. Lipids and blood clots build up in the large blood vessels and can cause atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Mastopathy, diabetic

a rare fibrous breast condition occurring in women, and sometimes men, with long-standing diabetes. The lumps are not malignant and can be surgically removed, although they often recur.

Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY)

a kind of Type 2 diabetes that accounts for 1 to 5 percent of people with diabetes. Of the six forms identified, each is caused by a defect in a single gene.

Metabolic syndrome

the tendency of several conditions to occur together, including obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes or pre-diabetes, hypertension, and high lipids.


the term for the way cells chemically change food so that it can be used to store or use energy and make the proteins, fats, and sugars needed by the body.

Microvascular disease (MY-kro-VASK-yoo-ler)

disease of the smallest blood vessels, such as those found in the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. The walls of the vessels become abnormally thick but weak. Then they bleed, leak protein, and slow the flow of blood to the cells.

Mixed dose

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

Neurologist (ne-RAH-luh-jist)

a doctor who specializes in problems of the nervous system, such as neuropathy.

Neuropathy (ne-ROP-uh-thee)

disease of the nervous system. The three major forms in people with diabetes are peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and mononeuropathy. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which affects mainly the legs and feet.

Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)

former term for Type 2 diabetes.

Noninvasive blood glucose monitoring (NON-in-VAY-siv)

measuring blood glucose without pricking the finger to obtain a blood sample.

NPH insulin

an intermediate-acting insulin; NPH stands for neutral protamine Hagedorn. On average, NPH insulin starts to lower blood glucose within 1 to 2 hours after injection. It has its strongest effect 6 to 10 hours after injection but keeps working about 10 hours after injection. Also called N insulin.

Nutritionist (noo-TRIH-shuh-nist)

a person with training in nutrition; may or may not have specialized training and qualifications. See dietitian.


a condition in which a greater than normal amount of fat is in the body; more severe than overweight; having a body mass index of 30 or more.

Obstetrician (ob-steh-TRIH-shun)

a doctor who treats pregnant women and delivers babies.

Ophthalmologist (AHF-thal-MAH-luh-jist)

a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats all eye diseases and eye disorders. Opthalmologists can also prescribe glasses and contact lenses.

Optician (ahp-TI-shun)

a health care professional who dispenses glasses and lenses. An optician also makes and fits contact lenses.

Optometrist (ahp-TAH-meh-trist)

a primary eye care provider who prescribes glasses and contact lenses. Optometrists can diagnose and treat certain eye conditions and diseases.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

a test to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes. The oral glucose tolerance test is given by a health care professional after an overnight fast. A blood sample is taken, then the patient drinks a high-glucose beverage. Blood samples are taken at intervals for 2 to 3 hours. Test results are compared with a standard and show how the body uses glucose over time.

Oral hypoglycemic agents (hy-po-gly-SEE-mik)

medicines taken by mouth by people with Type 2 diabetes to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. Classes of oral hypoglycemic agents are alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, D-phenylalanine derivatives, meglitinides, sulfonylureas, and thiazolidinediones.


an above-normal body weight; having a body mass index of 25 to 29.9.

Pancreas (PAN-kree-us)

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.

Pancreas transplantation

a surgical procedure to take a healthy whole or partial pancreas from a donor and place it into a person with diabetes.

Pediatric endocrinologist (pee-dee-AT-rik en-doh-krih-NAH-luh-jist)

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

Periodontal disease (PER-ee-oh-DON-tul)

disease of the gums.

Periodontist (PER-ee-oh-DON-tist)

a dentist who specializes in treating people who have gum diseases.

Peripheral neuropathy (puh-RIF-uh-rul ne-ROP-uh-thee)

nerve damage that affects the feet, legs, or hands. Peripheral neuropathy causes pain, numbness, or a tingling feeling.

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) (puh-RIF-uh-rul VAS-kyoo-ler)

a disease of the large blood vessels of the arms, legs, and feet. PVD may occur when major blood vessels in these areas are blocked and do not receive enough blood. The signs of PVD are aching pains and slow-healing foot sores.

Pharmacist (FAR-mah-sist)

a health care professional who prepares and distributes medicine to people. Pharmacists also give information on medicines

Podiatrist (puh-DY-uh-trist)

a doctor who treats people who have foot problems. Podiatrists also help people keep their feet healthy by providing regular foot examinations and treatment.

Podiatry (puh-DY-uh-tree)

the care and treatment of feet.

Point system

a meal planning system that uses points to rate the caloric content of foods.


a condition in which blood glucose 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.

Preprandial blood glucose (pree-PRAN-dee-ul)

the blood glucose level taken before eating.


the number of people in a given group or population who are reported to have a disease.

Prosthesis (prahs-THEE-sis)

a man-made substitute for a missing body part such as an arm or a leg.

Protein (PRO-teen)

1. One of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide protein include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, dairy products, eggs, and dried beans. 2. Proteins are also used in the body for cell structure, hormones such as insulin, and other functions.

Rapid-acting insulin

a type of insulin that starts to lower blood glucose within 5 to 10 minutes after injection and has its strongest effect 30 minutes to 3 hours after injection, depending on the type used. See aspart insulin and lispro insulin.

Rebound hyperglycemia (HY-per-gly-SEE-mee-ah)

a swing to a high level of glucose in the blood after a low level. See Somogyi effect.

Recognized Diabetes Education Programs

diabetes self-management education programs that are approved by the American Diabetes Association.

Regular insulin

short-acting insulin. On average, regular insulin starts to lower blood glucose 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. Also called R insulin.

Renal (REE-nal)

having to do with the kidneys. A renal disease is a disease of the kidneys. Renal failure means the kidneys have stopped working.

Renal threshold of glucose (THRESH-hold)

the blood glucose concentration at which the kidneys start to excrete glucose into the urine.

Repaglinide (reh-PAG-lih-nide)

an oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin right after meals. Belongs to the class of medicines called meglitinides. (Brand name: Prandin)

Retina (REH-ti-nuh)

the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.

Risk factor

anything that raises the chances of a person developing a disease.

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