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Diabetic Dictionary
beta cellĀ 
a cell that makes insulin. Beta cells are located in the islets of the pancreas.
biguanide (by-GWAH-nide)
a class of oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes that lowers blood glucose by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and by helping the body respond better to insulin. (Generic name: metformin)
blood glucose
the main sugar found in the blood and the body's main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.
blood glucose level
the amount of glucose in a given amount of blood. It is noted in milligrams in a deciliter, or mg/dL.
blood glucose meter
a small, portable machine used by people with diabetes to check their blood glucose levels. After pricking the skin with a lancet, one places a drop of blood on a test strip in the machine. The meter (or monitor) soon displays the blood glucose level as a number on the meter's digital display.
blood glucose monitoring
checking blood glucose level on a regular basis in order to manage diabetes. A blood glucose meter (or blood glucose test strips that change color when touched by a blood sample) is needed for frequent blood glucose monitoring.
blood pressure
the force of blood exerted on the inside walls of blood vessels. Blood pressure is expressed as a ratio (example: 120/80, read as "120 over 80"). The first number is the systolic (sis-TAH-lik) pressure, or the pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries. The second number is the diastolic (DY-uh-STAH-lik) pressure, or the pressure when the heart rests.
blood urea nitrogen (BUN) (yoo-REE-uh NY-truh-jen)
a waste product in the blood from the breakdown of protein. The kidneys filter blood to remove urea. As kidney function decreases, the BUN levels increase.
blood vessels
tubes that carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, veins and capillaries.
body mass index (BMI)
a measure used to evaluate body weight relative to a person's height. BMI is used to find out if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.
bolus (BOH-lus)
an extra amount of insulin taken to cover an expected rise in blood glucose, often related to a meal or snack.
borderline diabetes
a former term for Type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.
brittle diabetes
a term used when a person's blood glucose level moves often from low to high and from high to low.
bunion (BUN-yun)
a bulge on the first joint of the big toe, caused by the swelling of a fluid sac under the skin. This spot can become red, sore and infected.
callus
a small area of skin, usually on the foot, that has become thick and hard from rubbing or pressure.
calorie
a unit representing the energy provided by food. Carbohydrate, protein, fat and alcohol provide calories in the diet. Carbohydrate and protein have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram, and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.
capillary (KAP-ih-lair-ee)
the smallest of the body's blood vessels. Oxygen and glucose pass through capillary walls and enter the cells. Waste products such as carbon dioxide pass back from the cells into the blood through capillaries.
capsaicin (kap-SAY-ih-sin)
an ingredient in hot peppers that can be found in ointment form for use on the skin to relieve pain from diabetic neuropathy.
carbohydrate (kar-boh-HY-drate)
one of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide carbohydrate are starches, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and sugars.
carbohydrate counting
a method of meal planning for people with diabetes based on counting the number of grams of carbohydrate in food.
cardiologist (kar-dee-AH-luh-jist)
a doctor who treats people who have heart problems.
cardiovascular disease (KAR-dee-oh-VASK-yoo-ler)
disease of the heart and blood vessels (arteries, veins and capillaries).
cataract (KA-ter-act)
clouding of the lens of the eye.
cerebrovascular disease (seh-REE-broh-VASK-yoo-ler)
damage to blood vessels in the brain. Vessels can burst and bleed or become clogged with fatty deposits. When blood flow is interrupted, brain cells die or are damaged, resulting in a stroke.
certified diabetes educator (CDE)
a health care professional with expertise in diabetes education who has met eligibility requirements and successfully completed a certification exam.
Charcot's foot (shar-KOHZ)
a condition in which the joints and soft tissue in the foot are destroyed; it results from damage to the nerves.
chlorpropamide (klor-PROH-pah-mide)
an oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose levels by helping the pancreas make more insulin and by helping the body better use the insulin it makes. Belongs to the class of medicines called sulfonylureas. (Brand name: Diabinese)
cholesterol (koh-LES-ter-all)
a type of fat produced by the liver and found in the blood; it is also found in some foods. Cholesterol is used by the body to make hormones and build cell walls.
chronic
describes something that is long-lasting. Opposite of acute.
circulation
the flow of blood through the body's blood vessels and heart.
 
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