Diabetes Glossary

Browse or search for definitions from our comprehensive list of diabetes terms.

Browse Glossary: "a"

A1C

a test that measures a person's average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. Hemoglobin a>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). Patches may appear on the neck, under the breast, in the groin area, in an armpit or top of the knuckles. 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 inblood glucose throughout the day, especially right after meals. Belongs to the class of medicines called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. (Brand name: Precose.)

ACE inhibitor

ACE inhibitors are medications that treat hypertension nzyme (ACE) inhibitors prevent an enzyme in your body from producing Angiotensin II, a substance that narrows your blood vessels and releases hormones that can raise your blood pressure.

acesulfame

acesulfame puh-TAS-ee-um): a dietary sweetener with no calories and no nutritional value. Also known as acesulfame-K. (Brand name: Sunett.)

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.)

Actos

see pioglitazone

acute

describes something that happens suddenly and for a short time. Opposite of chronic.

adhesive capsulitis

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) endproducts. 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.)

Amaryl

see glimepiride.

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.

antigens

substances that cause an immune response in the body. The body "sees" the antigens as harmful or foreign. To fight them, the body produces antibodies, which attack and try to eliminate the antigens.

ARB

an oral medicine that lowers blood pressure ; ARB stands for angiotensin

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 (Novolog) 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.)

asymptomatic

no symptoms; no clear sign of disease present.

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.

Avandia

see rosiglitazone.

    Disclaimer

    Our glossary includes and builds on the definitions found in The Diabetes Dictionary (NIH Publication No. 07-3016, October 2006) published by the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, which is available on their website and is not copyrighted. The Clearinghouse encourages users of this publication to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.

    The U.S. Government does not endorse or favor any specific commercial product or company. Trade, proprietary, or company names appearing in this document are used only because they are considered essential in the context of the information provided.

    The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). For more information, visit their website at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.