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Glossary Of Terms



albumin - a protein found in blood plasma and urine, which can be a sign of kidney disease.

autoimmune process - a process where the body's immune system attacks and destroys body tissue that it mistakes for foreign matter.


beta cells - cells that make insulin, found in areas of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans.

bladder - a hollow organ that urine drains into from the kidneys.

blood glucose - the main sugar that the body makes from food; cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.

blood pressure - force of the blood against the artery walls.


calluses - thick, hardened areas of the skin, usually on the foot, caused by friction or pressure.

carbohydrates - a type of food, usually derived from plants; one of three nutrients that supply calories to the body; includes simple carbohydrates (sugar, fruit) and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, starches).

cholesterol - a substance similar to fat that is found in the blood, muscles, liver, brain, and other body tissues.

corn - a thickening of the skin of the feet or hands, usually caused by pressure against the skin.


diabetes mellitus - disorder that prevents the body from converting digested food into the energy needed for daily activities.


fat - one of three nutrients that supply calories to the body.

food exchanges - a way to help people stay on special food plans by letting them replace items from one food group with items from another group.


gestational diabetes - form of diabetes which begins during pregnancy in women who have not been known to have diabetes before, and usually disappears following delivery.

glucagon - a hormone that raises the blood glucose level.

glucose - a sugar in our blood and a source of energy for our bodies.

glucose tolerance test - blood test used to make the diagnosis of diabetes, including gestational diabetes.


hemoglobin - substance in the red blood cells that supplies oxygen to the cells of the body.

hemoglobin A1c - a test that sums up how much glucose has been sticking to part of the hemoglobin during the past 3-4 months.

high blood glucose - a condition that occurs in people with diabetes when their blood glucose levels are too high.

high blood pressure - a condition where the blood circulates through the arteries with too much force.

hyperglycemia - see high blood glucose.

hypertension - see high blood pressure.

hypoglycemia - condition where the blood sugar is lower than normal.


impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) - a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but are not high enough to be classified as diabetes; a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

impotence - a condition of being unable to maintain an erection and ejaculate.

insulin - hormone manufactured by the pancreas, which helps glucose leave the blood and enter the muscles and other tissues of the body.

insulin-dependent diabetes - see type 1 diabetes.

insulin-resistance - partial blocking of the effect of insulin.


ketoacidosis - high blood glucose, often caused by illness or taking too little insulin.

ketone - break down product of fat that accumulates in the blood as a result of inadequate insulin or inadequate calorie intake.


low blood glucose - a condition that occurs in people with diabetes when their blood glucose levels are too low.


macrosomia - term meaning "large body;" refers to a baby that is considered larger than normal, a condition that occurs when the mother’s blood sugar levels have been higher than normal during the pregnancy; a preventable complication of gestational diabetes.

meal plan - a guide to help people get the proper amount of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber in their diet. See also food exchanges.


nephropathy - diabetic kidney disease.

neuropathy - diabetic nerve damage.

non-insulin-dependent diabetes - see type 2 diabetes.

nutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals provided by food and necessary for growth and the maintenance of life.


pancreas - long gland that lies behind the stomach, which manufactures insulin and digestive enzymes.

placenta - special tissue that joins the mother and fetus to provide hormones necessary for a successful pregnancy, and supplies the fetus with water and nutrients (food) from the mother’s blood.

plaque - film of mucus that traps bacteria on the surface of the teeth.

protein - substance found in many parts of the body that helps the body to resist disease.


recommended dietary allowance (RDA) - recommendations for daily intake of specific nutrients for groups of healthy individuals set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science.

retinopathy - diabetic eye disease.

risk factors - traits that make it more likely that a person will develop an illness.


self-monitoring blood glucose - method for people with diabetes to find out how much glucose is in their blood.

stroke - damage to part of the brain that happens when the blood vessels supplying that part are blocked, such as when the blood vessels are clogged with fats (a condition sometimes called hardening of the arteries).


trimester - period of 3 months.

type 1 diabetes - a condition in which the pancreas makes so little insulin that the body cannot use blood glucose as energy, which must be controlled with daily insulin injections.

type 2 diabetes - a condition in which the body either makes too little insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes to use blood glucose as energy, which can often be controlled through meal plans and physical activity plans, and diabetes pills or insulin.


ulcer - a break or deep sore in the skin.


vitrectomy - an operation to remove the blood that sometimes collects at the back of the eyes when a person has eye disease.