Type 2 Diabetes Glossary

Diabetes brings a handful of unfamiliar words with it. Here's a glossary to help you understand some of the concepts that are important in taking steps toward a healthy balance.

A1C test

A standard test that shows the average amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood over the past 2-3 months—as
well as how well your blood sugar is being controlled over time. It can be performed in a laboratory or in your
doctor's office.

blood sugar

(See glucose below)


One of 3 main groups of foods in the diet that provide calories and energy. (Protein and fat are the others.)
Carbohydrates are mainly sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates, found in bread,
pasta, beans) that the body breaks down into glucose (sugar).


A type of fat made in the body that helps the body digest food, produce hormones, and build new cells.


Not having enough water and fluids in the body, a symptom of high blood sugar.


A disease of high blood sugar. When you have diabetes, your blood sugar is too high. The most common type
of diabetes is type 2 diabetes.

diabetes educator

A person who shows people with diabetes how to test, record, and control blood sugar; how to make good
choices about nutrition and physical activity; and how to prevent and treat problems associated with diabetes.

diabetic ketoacidosis

Increased ketones in the blood or urine.

diastolic blood pressure

The bottom blood pressure number—the force of blood against the arteries when the heart rests.


When your blood sugar gets too high, your body sends messages to your pancreas to make more insulin and to
your liver to make less sugar. But some of these messages do not get through because of a substance in your
body called DPP-4.

fasting blood sugar

Blood sugar taken after not eating for at least 8 hours.


A hormone made in the pancreas which signals the liver to make sugar. Glucagon helps maintain blood sugar
levels when a person is not eating or when very active.


A type of sugar from which your body gets the energy it needs. Glucose is also called blood sugar. Your body
gets this sugar from 2 sources:

  • •  The food you eat
  • •  Your liver, which makes sugar when you haven't eaten

After you eat, your blood sugar rises. But with type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin to lower
your blood sugar levels, or the insulin does not work as well as it should. Your liver may also make too much


"Good" cholesterol, the type that works to clear LDL ("bad") cholesterol form the blood, helping to keep the
arteries healthy.

high blood sugar

(See hyperglycemia below)


The medical term for high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar. For most people, blood
sugar levels that stay higher than 140 mg/dL (before meals) are too high. For many people, the normal blood
sugar range is 70 to 140 mg/dL, with the higher reading occurring mainly after meals.


The medical term for low blood sugar. It occurs when your blood sugar level drops too low to provide enough
energy for your body's activities. This can result in nervousness and shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or
light-headedness, confusion, difficulty speaking, or any combination of these. Other causes of hypoglycemia are
certain medicines, too much exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption. In general, a blood sugar reading
lower than 70 mg/dL is too low.


A hormone made by the pancreas that helps the sugar from your blood into your cells, where the sugar is
used for energy. The right amount of insulin helps keep your blood sugar level in control. In type 2 diabetes, the
body does not make enough insulin, or the insulin that the body makes does not work the way that it should; this
causes the blood sugar level to become too high.


Chemical substances that the body makes when it doesn't have enough insulin in the blood. When ketones build
up in the body for a long time, serious illness or coma can result.


"Bad" cholesterol, the type that can lead to accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries, and promotes
cardiovascular disease.


An organ in the body that cleanses toxins from the blood and also makes sugar when you haven't eaten.

low blood sugar

(see hypoglycemia above)


Milligrams per deciliter, the metric unit in which blood sugar is measured. One milligram is one-thousandth of a
gram, approximately the weight of one paper clip divided by a thousand. A deciliter is one-tenth of a liter, or a
little less than one-half of a cup.


A gland behind your stomach. The pancreas produces the hormones insulin and glucagon.


A pill without active medication.

saturated fat

These fats are most likely to raise cholesterol levels. They are usually solid at room temperature, like butter,
coconut, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil (often called tropical oils), and cocoa butter.

systolic blood pressure

The top blood pressure number—the force of blood against the arteries when the heart beats.

trans fat

The type of fat produced when liquid oil is made into a solid fat. The process is called hydrogenation. Trans fats can raise your cholesterol level.


A type of fat in the blood.

type 2 diabetes

A disease of high blood sugar. It is the most common form of diabetes. In this type of diabetes, the body does
not make enough insulin, or the insulin that the body makes does not work the way that it should; this causes
the blood sugar level to become too high. The body may also keep making sugar even though it does not need
it. Once a person has type 2 diabetes, it does not go away. However, by working with your health care team, you
can take steps to control it.

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