Below is a list of diabetes-related terms and their definitions. Use the letter groupings to jump to words beginning with those letters. Adapted from NIDDK.
A1C a test that measures a person's average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. Hemoglobin (HEE-mo-glo-bin) is the part of a red blood cell that carries oxygen to the cells and sometimes joins with the glucose in the bloodstream. Also called hemoglobin A1C or glycosylated (gly-KOH-sih-lay-ted) hemoglobin, the test shows the amount of glucose that sticks to the red blood cell, which is proportional to the amount of glucose in the blood.
acanthosis nigricans (uh-kan-THO-sis NIH-grih-kans) a skin condition characterized by darkened skin patches; common in people whose body is not responding correctly to the insulin that they make in their pancreas (insulin resistance). This skin condition is also seen in people who have pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
acarbose (AK-er-bose) an oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It blocks the enzymes that digest starches in food. The result is a slower and lower rise in blood glucose throughout the day, especially right after meals. Belongs to the class of medicines called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. (Brand name: Precose)
ACE inhibitor an oral medicine that lowers blood pressure; ACE stands for angiotensin (an-gee-oh-TEN-sin) converting enzyme. For people with diabetes, especially those who have protein (albumin) in the urine, it also helps slow down kidney damage.
acesulfame potassium (a-see-SUL-fame puh-TAS-ee-um) a dietary sweetener with no calories and no nutritional value. Also known as acesulfame-K. (Brand name: Sunett)
acetohexamide (a-see-toh-HEX-uh-myde) an oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose 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: Dymelor)
acute describes something that happens suddenly and for a short time. Opposite of chronic.
adhesive capsulitis (ad-HEE-sive cap-soo-LITE-is) a condition of the shoulder associated with diabetes that results in pain and loss of the ability to move the shoulder in all directions.
adult-onset diabetes former term for Type 2 diabetes.
AGEs (A-G-EEZ) stands for advanced glycosylation (gly-KOH-sih-LAY-shun) end products. AGEs are produced in the body when glucose links with protein. They play a role in damaging blood vessels, which can lead to diabetes complications.
albuminuria (al-BYOO-mih-NOO-ree-uh) a condition in which the urine has more than normal amounts of a protein called albumin. Albuminuria may be a sign of nephropathy (kidney disease).
alpha cell (AL-fa) a type of cell in the pancreas. Alpha cells make and release a hormone called glucagon. The body sends a signal to the alpha cells to make glucagon when blood glucose falls too low. Then glucagon reaches the liver where it tells it to release glucose into the blood for energy.
alpha-glucosidase inhibitor (AL-fa-gloo-KOH-sih-days) a class of oral medicine for Type 2 diabetes that blocks enzymes that digest starches in food. The result is a slower and lower rise in blood glucose throughout the day, especially right after meals. (Generic names: acarbose and miglitol)
amylin (AM-ih-lin) a hormone formed by beta cells in the pancreas. Amylin regulates the timing of glucose release into the bloodstream after eating by slowing the emptying of the stomach.
amyotrophy (a-my-AH-truh-fee) a Type of neuropathy resulting in pain, weakness and/or wasting in the muscles.
anemia (uh-NEE-mee-uh) a condition in which the number of red blood cells is less than normal, resulting in less oxygen being carried to the body's cells.
angiopathy (an-gee-AH-puh-thee) any disease of the blood vessels (veins, arteries, capillaries) or lymphatic vessels.
antibodies (AN-ti-bod-eez) proteins made by the body to protect itself from "foreign" substances such as bacteria or viruses. People get Type 1 diabetes when their bodies make antibodies that destroy the body's own insulin-making beta cells.
ARB an oral medicine that lowers blood pressure; ARB stands for angiotensin (an-gee-oh-TEN-sin) receptor blocker.
arteriosclerosis (ar-TEER-ee-oh-skluh-RO-sis) hardening of the arteries.
artery a large blood vessel that carries blood with oxygen from the heart to all parts of the body.
aspart insulin (ASS-part) a rapid-acting insulin. On average, aspart insulin starts to lower blood glucose within 10 to 20 minutes after injection. It has its strongest effect 1 to 3 hours after injection but keeps working for 3 to 5 hours after injection.
aspartame (ASS-per-tame) a dietary sweetener with almost no calories and no nutritional value. (Brand names: Equal, NutraSweet)
atherosclerosis (ATH-uh-row-skluh-RO-sis) clogging, narrowing and hardening of the body's large arteries and medium-sized blood vessels. Atherosclerosis can lead to stroke, heart attack, eye problems and kidney problems.
autoimmune disease (AW-toh-ih-MYOON) disorder of the body's immune system in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.
autonomic neuropathy (aw-toh-NOM-ik ne-ROP-uh-thee) a type of neuropathy affecting the lungs, heart, stomach, intestines, bladder or genitals.