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Diabetes Dictionary

Acetone: A chemical formed in the blood when the body uses fat instead of glucose (sugar) for energy. If acetone forms, it usually means that the cells do not have enough insulin, or cannot use the insulin that is in the blood to use glucose for energy. Acetone passes through the body into the urine. Someone with a lot of acetone in the body can have breath that smells fruity and is called "acetone breath."

acidosis: Too much acid in the body. For a person with diabetes, this can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.

alpha cells: A type of cell in the pancreas that are found in the islets of Langerhans. Alpha cells make and release a hormone called glucagons, which raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Arteriosclerosis: A group of diseases in which the walls of the arteries get thick and hard. In one type of arteriosclerosis, fat builds up inside the walls and slows the blood flow. Theses diseases often occur in people who have had diabetes for a long time.

Aspartame: A man-made sweetener that people use in place of sugar because it has very few calories.

Autoimmune Disease: A disorder of the body's immune system in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease because the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells.

autonomic neuropathy: A disease of the nerves affecting mostly the internal organs such as the bladder muscles, the cardiovascular system, the digestive tract and the genital organs. These nerves are not under a person?s conscious control and function automatically.

basal rate: Refers to a continuous supply of low levels of insulin, as in insulin pump therapy.

beta cells: Cells that make insulin. These cells are found in the islets of Langerhans, a cluster of cells in the pancreas that secrete hormones which help the body break down and use food.

biphasic insulin: A type of insulin that is a mixture of intermediate- and fast-acting insulin.

blood glucose: The main sugar that the body makes from the three elements of food-proteins, fats and carbohydrates-but mostly from carbohydrates. Glucose is the major source of energy for cells and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. However, the cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.

blood-glucose meter: A hand-held machine which tests blood (obtained by pricking a finger) placed on a small strip inserted in the meter. The meter calculates and displays the blood-glucose (blood-sugar) level within seconds.

blood-glucose monitoring: A way of testing how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. A drop of blood, usually taken from the fingertip, is placed on the end of a testing strip that is then inserted in a blood-glucose meter for measurement. Blood testing shows what the level of glucose (sugar) is currently.

blood pressure: The force of the blood on the walls of arteries. Two levels of blood pressure are measured- the higher, or systolic, pressure, which occurs each time the heart pushes blood into the vessels, and the lower, or diastolic, pressure, which occurs when the heart rests. Blood pressure that is too high can cause serious health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. An estimated 60 to 65 percent of people with diabetes have high blood pressure.

bolus: An extra boost of insulin given to cover expected rise in blood glucose (sugar) such as the rise that occurs after eating. Often used in insulin pump therapy.

borderline diabetes: A term no longer used for impaired glucose tolerance.

brittle diabetes: A term used when a person's blood-glucose (blood-sugar) level often swings quickly from high to low and from low to high.

C.D.E. (Certified Diabetes Educator): A health-care professional who is Board certified by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators to teach people with diabetes how to manage their condition. The health-care team for diabetes should include a diabetes educator, preferably a C.D.E.

C-peptide: A substance that the pancreas releases into the bloodstream in equal amounts to insulin. A test of C-peptide levels will show how much insulin the body is making.

calories: Units representing the amount of energy provided by food. Carbohydrate, protein and fat are the primary sources of calories in the diet, but alcohol also provides calories. If all calories consumed aren't used as energy, they may be stored in the body as fat.

carbohydrate: One of three major sources of calories in the diet. Carbohydrate comes primarily from sugar (simple carbohydrate found in fruit, milk or added sugar) and starch (complex carbohydrate, found in bread, pasta and beans). Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose during digestion and is the main nutrient which raises blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels.

Charcot foot: A foot complication associated with diabetic neuropathy that results in destruction of joints and soft tissue. Also call Charcot's joint.

cholesterol: A waxy, fat-like substance used by the body to build cell walls and make certain vitamins and hormones. The liver produces enough cholesterol for the body, but we also get cholesterol when we eat animal products. Eating too much cholesterol and saturated fat can cause the blood cholesterol to rise and collect along the inside of blood vessels. This is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

chronic: Present over a long period of time. Diabetes is an example of chronic disease.

counter-regulatory (stress) hormones: Hormones released during stressful situations. These hormones include glucagon, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, cortisol and growth hormone. They cause the liver to release glucose and the cells to release fatty acids for extra energy. If there is not enough insulin present in the body, these hormones can lead to hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis.

clinical trial: A scientifically controlled study carried out on people, usually to test the effectiveness of a new treatment.

complications of diabetes: Harmful effects that may happen when a person had diabetes. Some effects, such as hypoglycemia, can happen any time. Others develop when a person has had diabetes for a long time. These include damage to the retina of the eye (retinopathy), the blood vessels (angiopathy), the nervous system (neuropathy) and the kidneys (nephropathy). Studies show that keeping blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels as close to normal as possible may help prevent, slow or delay complications.

controlled diabetes: Keeping blood-sugar levels as close to normal as possible, so that the disease has less of an effect of the body. People with diabetes can "control" the disease by staying on their diets, by exercising, by taking medicine if needed, and by monitoring their blood glucose (sugar).

DCCT (The Diabetes Control and Complication Trial): This was a 10-year study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. More than 1,400 people with Type 1 diabetes followed either conventional therapy (usually, two insulin injections a day) or intensive therapy (multiple daily injections or an insulin pump). The study proved that tight blood-sugar control reduces the risk of diabetic complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and amputations by up to 76 percent.

dawn phenomenon: A sudden rise in blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels in the early morning hours. This condition sometimes occurs in people with Type 1 diabetes and, rarely, in people with Type 2 diabetes. Unlike the Somogyi effect, it is not a result of an insulin reaction. People who have high levels of blood glucose (sugar) in the mornings before eating may need to monitor their levels during the night. If blood-glucose levels are rising, adjustments in evening snacks or insulin dosages may be recommended.

debridement: The removal of infected, hurt or dead tissue.

dehydration: Great loss of body water. A very high level of glucose (sugar) in the urine causes loss of water, and the person becomes very thirsty.

delta cell: A type of cell in the pancreas found in the islets of Langerhans. Delta cells make somatostatin, a hormone that is believed to control how the beta cells make and release insulin and how the alpha cells make and release glucagon.

dextrose: A simple sugar found in the blood. It is the body's main source of energy. Also called glucose.

diabetes (diabetes mellitus): A disease in which the body cannot produce or respond to insulin properly, a hormone that allows blood glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. High blood-sugar levels characterize diabetes.

diabetic amyotrophy: A disease of the nerves leading to the muscles. This condition affects only one side of the body and occurs most often in older men with diabetes.

diabetic coma: A severe emergency in which a person is not conscious because the blood glucose (sugar) is too low or too high. If the glucose level is too low, the person had hypoglycemia; if the level is too high, the person has hyperglycemia and may develop ketoacidosis.

diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): Severe, out-of-control diabetes (high blood sugar) that needs emergency treatment. DKA happens when blood-sugar levels get too high. This may happen because of illness, taking too little insulin or getting too little exercise. The body starts using stored fat for energy and ketone bodies (acids) build up in the blood. Ketoacidosis starts slowly and builds up. The signs include nausea and vomiting, which can lead to loss of water from the body, stomach pain, and deep and rapid breathing. If a person is not given fluids and insulin right away, DKA can lead to coma and even death.

diabetic myelopathy: Spinal cord damage found in some people with diabetes.

dialysis: A method for removing waste such as urea from the blood when the kidneys can no longer do the job.

dietitian: An expert in nutrition who helps people with special health needs plan the kinds and amounts of foods to eat. A registered dietitian (R.D.) has special qualifications. The health-care team for diabetes should include a dietitian, preferably an R.D.

dilated pupil exam: A necessary part of an examination for diabetic eye disease. Special drops are used to enlarge the pupils, enabling the doctor to view the back of the eye for damage.

emergency medical identification: Cards, bracelets or necklaces with a written message used by people with diabetes or other medical problems to alert other in case of a medical emergency such as coma.

endocrine glands: Glands that release hormones into the bloodstream. They affect how the body uses food (metabolism). They also influence other body functions. One endocrine gland is the pancreas. It releases insulin so the body can use sugar for energy.

endocrinologist: A physician who treats people who have problems with their endocrine glands. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder.

end-stage renal disease: The final phase of kidney disease; treated by dialysis or kidney transplantation.

enzymes: A special type of protein. Enzymes help the body's chemistry work better and more quickly. Each enzymes usually has its own chemical job to do such as helping to change starch into glucose (sugar).

exchanges: One method of diabetes meal planning that groups foods according to their effect on blood sugars. There are three basic groups: carbohydrates (starch, fruit, milk, vegetables), meat and meat substitutes, and fat. Any food in a given group can be exchanged or traded for any other food in that group in the appropriate amount.

fats: The most concentrated source of calories in the diet. Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products. Unsaturated fats mainly come from plants and can be monounsaturated (olive or canola oil) or polyunsaturated (corn and other oils). Excess intake of fats, especially saturated fat, can cause elevated blood cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

fatty acids: A basic unit of fats. When insulin levels are too low or there is not enough glucose (sugar) to use for energy, the body burns fatty acids for energy. The body then makes ketone bodies, waste products that cause the acid level in the blood to become too high. This in turn may lead to ketoacidosis, a serious problem.

fiber: The parts of plants which the body cannot digest, such as fruit and vegetable skins. Fiber aids in the normal functioning of the digestive system, specifically the intestinal tract.

fructose: A type of sugar found in many fruits and vegetables and in honey. Fructose is used to sweeten some diet foods. It is considered a nutritive sweetener because it has calories.

fundus of the eye: The back or deep part of the eye, including the retina.

fundoscopy: A test to look at the back area of the eye to see if there is any damage to the vessels that bring blood to the retina. The doctor uses a device called an ophthalmoscope to check the eye.

galactose: A type of sugar found in milk products and sugar beets. It is also made by the body. It is considered a nutritive sweetener because it has calories.

gangrene: The death of body tissue. It is most often caused by a loss of blood flow, especially in the legs and feet.

gastroparesis: A form of nerve damage that affects the stomach interfering with diabetes management. Food is not digested properly and does not move through the stomach in a normal way, resulting in vomiting, nausea or bloating.

gestational diabetes: Diabetes that develops during pregnancy. The mother's blood glucose (sugar) rises due to hormones secreted during pregnancy and the mother cannot produce enough insulin to handle the high blood-glucose levels. Although gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, about 60 percent of women who?ve had gestational diabetes eventually develop Type 2 diabetes.

gland: A group of special cells that make substances so that other parts of the body can work. For example, the pancreas is a gland that releases insulin so that other body cells can use glucose (sugar) for energy.

glomeruli: Network of tiny blood vessels in the kidneys where the blood is filtered and waste products are removed.

glucagon: A hormone produced by the pancreas that raises blood-sugar levels. An injectable preparation is available by prescription for use in treating a severe insulin reaction.

glucose: A simple form of sugar that acts as the body's fuel. It is produced when foods are broken down in the digestive system. Glucose is carried by the blood to cells. The amount of glucose in the blood is known as the blood-glucose (blood-sugar) level.

glucose tolerance test: A test to see if a person has diabetes. The test is given in a lab or a doctor's office in the morning before the person has eaten. A first sample of blood is taken from the person. Then the person drinks a liquid that had glucose (sugar) in it. After one hour, a second blood sample is drawn, and, after another hour, a third sample is taken. The object is to see how well the body deals with the glucose in the blood over time.

glycohemoglobin: A test that reflects average blood-sugar control for about two to three months before the test. One such test is the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c).

glycogen: A substance made up of sugars. It is stored in the liver and muscles and releases glucose (sugar) into the blood when needed by cells. Glycogen is the chief source of stored fuel in the body.

glycosuria: Having glucose (sugar) in the urine.

glycosylated hemoglobin test: A blood test that measures a person's average blood-glucose (blood-sugar) level for the two- to three- month period before the test.

gram: A unit of weight in the metric system. There are 28 grams in 1 ounce. In some diet plans for people with diabetes, the suggested amounts of food are given in grams.

health-care team: The group of health-care professionals who help a patient manage diabetes. This team may include a physician, registered dietitian, registered nurse and certified diabetes educator (a certified diabetes educator can also be a physician, registered nurse or registered dietitian). Ophthalmologists, podiatrists, pharmacists, social workers and other specialists are also part of the team.

heart disease: A condition in which the heart cannot efficiently pump blood. Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries that nourish the heart muscle narrow or become blocked. People with diabetes have a higher risk than the general population of developing heart disease.

hemodialysis: A mechanical method of cleaning the blood for people who have kidney disease.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c): The substance of red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells and sometimes joins with glucose (sugar). Because the glucose stays attached for the life of the cell (about three months), a test to measure hemoglobin A1c shows what the person?s average blood-glucose level was for that period of time.

hormone: A chemical released by special cells to tell other cells what to do. For instance, insulin is a hormone made by the beta cells in the pancreas. When released, insulin tells other cells to use glucose (sugar).

hyperglycemia: A condition in which blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels are too high. Symptoms may include frequent urination, increased thirst, tiredness, blurry vision and unexplained weight loss.

hyperinsulinism: Too high a level of insulin in the blood. This term most often refers to a condition in which the body produces too much insulin. Researchers believe that this condition may play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes and in hypertension.

hypertension: High blood pressure or when the blood flow through the vessels at a greater than normal force. High blood pressure strains the heart; harms the arteries; and, increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney problems.

hyperosmolar coma: A coma (loss of consciousness) related to high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and requiring emergency treatment. A person with this condition is usually older and weak from loss of body fluids and weight. The person may or may not have a previous history or diabetes. Ketones (acids) are not present in the urine.

hypoglycemia: (Insulin reaction) A condition in which blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels drop too low (generally, below 70 mg/dl). Symptoms include moodiness, numbness in the arms and hands, confusion and shakiness or dizziness. When left untreated, this condition can become severe and lead to unconsciousness.

hypotension: Low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure. A person rising quickly from a sitting or reclining position may have a sudden fall in blood pressure, causing dizziness or fainting.

immunosuppression: Suppression of the immune system. People who receive kidney or pancreas transplants take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent the immune system from attacking the new organ.

impaired glucose tolerance (IGT): Blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. People with IGT may or may not develop diabetes. Other names no longer used for IGT are "borderline," "subclinical," "chemical," or "latent" diabetes.

Impotence: The loss of a man's ability to have an erect penis (erectile dysfunction) and to emit semen. Some men may become impotent after having diabetes for a long time because the nerves or blood vessels have become damaged. Sometimes the problem has nothing to do with diabetes and may be treated with counseling.

injection: Putting liquid into the body with a needle and syringe. A person with diabetes injects insulin by putting the needle into the tissue under the skin (called subcutaneous). Other ways of giving medicine or nourishment by injection are to put the needle into a vein (intravenous) or into a muscle (intramuscular).

injection sites: Places on the body where people can inject insulin most easily. These are: the outer area of the upper arm; just above and below the waist, except the area right around the navel (a 2-inch circle); the upper area of the buttock, just behind the hip bone; the front of the thigh, midway to the outer side, 4 inches below the top of the thigh to 4 inches above the knee. These areas can vary with the size of the person. Changing or rotating the places on the body where a person injects insulin keeps lumps or small dents from forming in the skin (called lipodystrophies).

insulin: A hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the body use glucose (sugar). It is the "key" that unlocks the "doors" to cells, allows glucose to enter and fuel the cells.

insulin pen: An insulin injection device the size of a pen that includes a needle and holds a vial of insulin. In can be used instead of syringes for giving insulin injections.

insulin pump: A device that delivers a continuous supply of insulin into the body. The insulin flows from the pump through a plastic tube that is connected to a needle inserted into the body and taped in place. Insulin is delivered at two rates: a low, steady rate (called basal rate) for continuous day-long coverage, and extra boosts of insulin (called bolus doses) to cover meals or when extra insulin is needed. The pump runs on batteries and can be worn clipped to a belt or carried in a pocket. People with Type 1 diabetes use insulin pumps.

insulin reaction: Too low a level of glucose (sugar) in the blood; also called hypoglycemia. This occurs when a person with diabetes has injected too much insulin, eaten too little food or exercised without extra food. The person may feel hungry, nauseated, weak, nervous, shaky, confused and sweaty. Taking small amounts of sugar, sweet juice or food with sugar will usually help the person feel better within 10 to 15 minutes.

insulin receptors: Areas on the outer part of a cell that allow the cell to join or bind with insulin that is in the blood. When the cell and insulin bind together, the cell can take glucose (sugar) from the blood and use it for energy.

insulin resistance: A condition in which the body does not respond to insulin properly. This is the most common cause of Type 2 diabetes. This may happen because the person is overweight and has too many fat cells, which do not respond well to insulin. Also, as people age, their body cells lose some of the ability to respond to insulin. Insulin resistance is also linked to high blood pressure and high levels of fat in the blood.

insulin shock: A severe condition that occurs when the level of blood glucose (sugar) drops quickly. The signs are shaking, sweating, dizziness, double vision, convulsions and collapse. Insulin shock may occur when an insulin reaction is not treated quickly enough.

insulinoma: A tumor of the beta cells in areas of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans. Although not usually cancerous, such tumors may cause the body to make extra insulin and may lead to a blood-glucose (blood-sugar) level that is too low.

islet cell transplantation: Moving the beta (islet) cells from a donor pancreas and putting them into a person whose pancreas has stopped producing insulin. The beta cells make the insulin that the body needs to use glucose (sugar) for energy. Although transplanting islet cells may one day help people with diabetes, the procedure is still in the research stage.

islet of Langerhans: A special group of cells in the pancreas. They make and secret hormones that help the body break down and use food. Named after Paul Langerhans, the German scientist who discovered them in 1869, these cells sit in clusters in the pancreas. There are five types of cells in an islet: beta cells, which make insulin; alpha cells, which make glucagon; delta cells, which make somatostatin; and, PP cells and D1 cells, about which little is known.

ketoacidosis: (diabetic coma or DKA) A severe condition caused by a lack of insulin or an elevation in stress hormones. It is marked by high blood-sugar levels and ketones in the urine, and occurs almost exclusively in those with Type 1 diabetes.

ketones (ketone bodies): Acids produced when the body breaks down fat for fuel. This occurs when there is not enough insulin to permit glucose (sugar) to enter the cells and fuel them or when there are too many stress hormones.

ketonuria: Having ketone bodies in the urine; a warning sign of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

ketosis: a condition of having ketone bodies build up in body tissue and fluids. The signs of ketosis are nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Ketosis can lead to ketoacidosis.

kidneys: Two organs in the lower back that clean waste from the blood. The kidneys, shaped like two large beans, act as the body?s filter. The also control the level of some chemicals in the blood such as hydrogen, sodium, potassium and phosphate.

kussmaul breathing: The rapid, deep and labored breathing of people who have ketoacidosis or who are in a diabetic coma. Kussmaul breathing is named for Adolph Kussmaul, the 19th-century German doctor who first noted it. Also called "air hunger."

lactic acidosis: The buildup of lactic acid in the body. The cells make lactic acid when they use glucose (sugar) for energy. If too much lactic acid stays in the body, a person begins to feel ill. The signs of lactic acidosis are deep and rapid breathing, vomiting and abdominal pain. Lactic acidosis may be caused by ketoacidosis or liver or kidney disease.

lactose: A type of sugar found in milk and milk products. It is considered a nutritive sweetener because it has calories.

lancet: A fine, sharp-pointed blade or needle for pricking the skin used in blood-glucose testing.

lente insulin: A type of insulin that is intermediate acting.

lipid: A term for fat. The body stores fat as energy for future use. When the body needs energy, it can break down the lipids into fatty acids and burn them like glucose (sugar).

mg/dl: Milligrams per deciliter. This is the unit of measure used when referring to blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels.

meal plan : A guide for controlling the amount of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats a person eats. People with diabetes can use such plans as the Exchange Lists or the Point System to help them plan their meals so that they can keep their diabetes under control.

metabolism: The term for the way cells chemically change food so that it can be used to keep the body alive. Insulin is necessary for the metabolism of food.

microvascular disease: Disease of the small blood vessels that sometimes occurs when a person has had diabetes for a long time. The walls of the vessels become abnormally thick, but weak, and therefore, they bleed, leak protein and slow the flow of blood through the body. For example, the small vessels in the eye may not get enough blood and may be damaged.

morbidity rate: The sickness rate; the number of people who are sick or have a disease compared with the number who are well.

mortality rate: The death rate; the number of people who die of a certain disease compared with the total number of people. Mortality is most often state as death per 1,000, per 10,000, or per 100,000 persons.

National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): One of the institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Public Health Service.

nephrologist: A physician who sees and treats people with kidney diseases.

nephropathy: Kidney damage that can be life-threatening. When kidneys fail to function, dialysis (filtering blood through a machine) or kidney transplantation becomes necessary.

neurologist: A physician who sees and treats people with problems of the nervous system.

neuropathy: Damage to the nerves that is often broken down into two categories. Peripheral neuropathies affect the nerves controlling sensation (and less commonly, muscles) in the feet, hands and joints. Autonomic neuropathies affect the nerve function of various organs, including those of the digestive system and urinary tract.

nonketotic coma: A type of coma caused by a lack of insulin. A nonketotic crisis means: 1) very high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood; 2) absence of ketoacidosis; 3) great loss of body fluid; and, 4) a sleepy, confused or comatose state. Nonketotic coma often results from some other problem such as a sever infection or kidney disease.

NPH insulin: A type of intermediate-acting insulin.

nutrition: The process by which the body draws nutrients from food and uses them to make or mend its cells.

nutritionist: A dietitian.

obesity: An abnormal and excessive amount of body fat. Most obese people are significantly overweight. However, obesity also occurs in people who are not overweight, but have more body fat than muscle. Obesity is considered a chronic condition. It is on the rise and is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

ophthalmologist: A physician who sees and treats people with eye problems or diseases.

Optometrist: A person professionally trained to test the eyes and to detect and treat eye problems and some diseases by prescribing and adapting corrective lenses and other optical aids and by suggesting eye exercise programs.

oral agents: (Oral hypoglycemic agents) Medications taken orally that are designed to lower blood glucose (sugar). They are used by some people with Type 2 diabetes and are not to be confused with insulin.

pancreas: A comma-shaped gland located just behind the stomach. It produces enzymes for digesting food and hormones that regulate the use of fuels in the body, including insulin and glucagon. In a fully functioning pancreas, insulin is released through beta cells located in clusters called islets of Langerhans.

pediatric endocrinologist: A physician who sees and treats children with problems of the endocrine glands; diabetes is an endocrine disorder.

periodontal disease: Damage to the gums. People who have diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people who do not have diabetes.

periodontist: A specialist in the treatment of the gums.

peripheral neuropathy: Nerve damage, usually affecting the feet and legs; causing pain, numbness or a tingling feeling. Also called "somatic neuropathy" or "distal sensory polyneuropathy."

peripheral vascular disease (PVD): Disease in the large blood vessels of the arms, legs and feet. People who have had diabetes for a long time may get this because major blood vessels in their arms, legs and feet are blocked and do not receive enough blood. The signs of PVD are aching pains in the arms, legs and feet, especially when walking, and foot sores that heal slowly.

peritoneal dialysis: A way to clean the blood of people who have kidney disease. A special solution is run through a tube into the peritoneum, a thin issue that lines the cavity of the abdomen. The body's waste products are removed through the tube.

pharmacist: A person trained to prepare and distribute medicines and to give information about them. A registered pharmacist (R.Ph.) has passed a licensing exam. The health-care team for diabetes should include a registered pharmacist.

pituitary gland: An endocrine gland in the small, bony cavity at the base of the brain. Often called "the master gland," the pituitary gland regulates growth, food use and reproduction.

podiatrist: A doctor who treats and takes care of people's feet.

point system: A way to plan meals that uses points to rate food. The foods are placed in four classes: calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each food is given a point value within its class. A person with a planned diet for the day can choose foods in the same class that have the same point values for meals and snacks.

polydipsia: A great thirst that last for long periods of time; a sign of diabetes.

polyphagia: A great hunger; a sign of diabetes. People with undiagnosed diabetes who experience polyphagia often lose weight.

polyunsaturated fats: A type of fat that comes from vegetables.

polyuria: Having to urinate often; a common sign of diabetes.

postprandial blood glucose: Blood taken one to two hours after eating to determine the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

preeclampsia: A condition that some women with diabetes have during the late states of pregnancy. Two signs of this condition are high blood pressure and swelling because the body cells are holding extra water.

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

protein: One of three major sources of calories in the diet. Protein provides the body with material for building blood cells, body tissue, hormones and other important substances. It is found in meats, eggs, milk and certain vegetables and starches.

proteinuria: Too much protein in the urine. This may be a sign of kidney damage.

reagents: Chemically treated strips or tablets that people use to test the level of glucose (sugar) in their blood and urine or the level of acetone in their urine.

receptors: Molecules that sit on cell surfaces and play a role in chemical "communication." For example, insulin cannot allow sugar into our cells unless the receptors on the cells respond properly to the insulin.

regular insulin: A type of insulin that is fast acting.

renal: A term that means having something to do with the kidneys.

retina: The center part of the back lining of the eye that senses light. It has many small blood vessels that are sometimes harmed when a person has had diabetes for a long time.

retinopathy: Damage to small blood vessels in the eye that can lead to vision problems. In background retinopathy the blood vessels bulge and leak fluids into the retina and may cause blurred vision. Proliferate retinopathy is more serious and can cause vision loss. In this condition, new blood vessels form in the retina and branch out to other areas of the eye. This can cause blood to leak into the clear fluid inside the eye and can also cause the retina to detach.

risk factor: Anything that raises the chance that a person will get a disease. For example, with Type 2 diabetes, people have a greater risk of getting the disease if they are more than 20 overweight.

saccharin: A man-made sweetener that people use in place of sugar because it has no calories.

saturated fat: A type of fat that comes from animals.

secrete: To make and release such as when the beta cells make insulin then release it into the blood, so that other cells in the body can use it to turn glucose (sugar) into energy.

self-management: Diabetes can be managed successfully if a person takes responsibility for their treatment plan by following a healthy diet, monitoring blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels, controlling their weight; exercising regularly, taking medication if prescribed, not smoking and having regular checkups with their physician.

somatostatin: A hormone made by the delta cells of the pancreas in the islets of Langerhans. Scientists think it may control how the body secretes two other hormones, insulin and glucagon.

Somogyi effect: A swing to a high level of glucose (sugar) in the blood from an extremely low level, usually occurring after an untreated insulin reaction during the night. The swing is caused by the release of stress hormones to counter low glucose levels. People who experience high level of blood glucose in the morning may need to test their blood glucose in the middle of the night. If blood glucose levels are falling or low, adjustments in evening snacks or insulin doses may be recommended. This condition is named after the man who first wrote about it, Dr. Michael Somogyi.

sorbitol: A sugar alcohol the body uses slowly. It is a sweetener used in diet foods. It is a nutritive sweetener because it has calories, 4 calories per gram, just like table sugar and starch. Sorbitol is also produced by the body. Too much sorbitol in cells can cause damage. Diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy may be related to too much sorbitol in the cells of the eyes and nerves.

spilling point: When the blood is holding so much of a substance such as glucose (sugar) that the kidney allow the excess to spill into the urine.

split dose: To divide a prescribed daily dose of insulin into two or more injections given over the course of the day. Also, it may be referred to as multiple injections. Many people who use insulin feel that split doses offer more consistent control over blood-glucose (sugar) levels.

Stroke: A disease caused by damage to blood vessels in the brain. Depending on the part of the brain affected, a stroke can cause a person to lose the ability to speak or move a part of the body such as an arm or a leg. Usually only one side of the body is affected.

subcutaneous injection: Putting a fluid into the tissue under the skin with a needle and syringe.

sucrose: Table sugar; a form of sugar that the body must break down into a more simple form before the blood can absorb it and take it to the cells.

sugar: A form of carbohydrate that provides calories and raises blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels. There are a variety of sugars such as white, brown, confectioner?s, invert and raw. Fructose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, glucose, honey, corn syrup, molasses and sorghum are also sugars.

sugar substitutes: Sweeteners used in place of sugar. Note that some sugar substitutes have calories and will affect blood-glucose (blood-sugar) levels, such as fructose (a sugar, but often used in "sugar-free" products), and sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol. Others have very few calories and will not affect blood-glucose levels, such as saccharin, acesulfame-K, aspartame (Nutrasweet) and sucralose (Splenda).

sulfonylureas: A class of oral medications that people with Type 2 diabetes take to lower their blood-glucose (blood-sugar) level.

syringe: A device used to inject medications or other liquids into body tissues. The syringe for insulin has a hollow plastic tube (barrel) with a plunger inside. The plunger forces the insulin through the needle into the body. The side of the syringe has markings to show how much insulin is being injected.

systemic: A word used to describe conditions that affect the entire body. Diabetes is a systemic disease because it involves many part of the body such as the pancreas, heart, kidneys, eyes, nervous system and circulatory system.

team management: Describes a diabetes treatment approach in which medical care is provided by a physician, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian and pharmacist.

trans-fatty acids: The process used by food manufacturers to increase the shelf life and stability of products. Partial hydrogenation (addition of hydrogen atoms) of vegetable oils makes the oils more solid, more stable and less greasy-tasting. Found mostly in margarine, vegetable shortening, cookies, crackers, doughnuts and fried foods, trans fats also occurs is small quantities naturally in beef, pork, lamb, butter and milk.

triglyceride: A type of blood fat. The body needs insulin to remove this type of fat from the blood. When diabetes is under control and a person's weight is what it should be, the level of triglycerides in the blood is usually about what it should be.

Type 1 diabetes: A form of diabetes that tends to develop before age 40 but may occur at any age. It?s caused by an immune system attack on the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. When the cells are destroyed, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. People who have Type 1 diabetes must take insulin to survive.

Type 2 diabetes: This form of diabetes usually occurs in people more than 40 years of age, but may develop in younger people, especially among minority persons. Most people who develop Type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant. However, some simply cannot produce enough insulin to meet their body's needs, and others have a combination of these problems. Many people with Type 2 diabetes control the disease through diet and exercise, but some must also take oral medications or insulin.

U-100: unit of insulin.

UKPDS (UK Prospective Diabetes Study): A study that ran from 1977-1997 and included thousands of people with Type 2 diabetes to evaluate the effectiveness of tight control over blood-sugar levels and blood pressure. The study showed that tight control of blood sugar and blood pressure, the use of prescribed medication instead of diet alone, did help people with Type 2 diabetes avoid complications and should make their lives healthier and longer.

ulcer: a break in the skin; a deep sore. People with diabetes may get ulcers from minor scrapes on the feet or legs, from cuts that heal slowly or from the rubbing of shoes that do not fit well. Ulcers can become infected.

ultralente insulin: a type of long-lasting 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. Most insulin made in the United States today is U-100.

unsaturated fats: A type of fat.

urine tests: Tests that measure substances in the urine. Urine tests for blood glucose (sugar) provide a general idea of a person's blood-sugar level several hours before the test. Today, urine tests are not recommended as a way to accurately monitor blood-sugar levels. However, urine tests for ketones are the only tests that measure ketones and are important in preventing ketoacidosis. Urine tests are also done by physicians to evaluate kidney function.

urologist: A physician who sees men and women for treatment of the urinary tract and men for treatment of the genital organs.

xylitol: A sweetener found in plants and used as a substitute for sugar; it is called a nutritive sweetener because it provides calories, just like sugar.