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Diabetes Dictionary F-J

Diabetes Dictionary Index

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F

Fasting Blood Glucose Test

A method for finding out how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. The test can show if a person has diabetes. A blood sample is taken in a lab or doctor's office. The test is usually done in the morning before the person has eaten. The normal, nondiabetic range for blood glucose is from 70 to 110 mg/dl, depending on the type of blood being tested. If the level is 126 mg/dl or greater, it means the person has diabetes (except for newborns and some pregnant women).

Fats

One of the three main classes of foods and a source of energy in the body. Fats help the body use some vitamins and keep the skin healthy. They also serve as energy stores for the body. In food, there are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and come chiefly from animal food products. Some examples are butter, lard, meat fat, solid shortening, palm oil, and coconut oil. These fats tend to raise the level of cholesterol, a fat-like substance in the blood.

Unsaturated fats, which include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, are liquid at room temperature and come from plant oils such as olive, peanut, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, and soybean. These fats tend to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood. See also: Carbohydrate; protein.

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. See also: Diabetic ketoacidosis.

Fiber

A substance found in foods that come from plants. Fiber helps in the digestive process and is thought to lower cholesterol and help control blood glucose (sugar). The two types of fiber in food are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, found in beans, fruits, and oat products, dissolves in water and is thought to help lower blood fats and blood glucose (sugar). Insoluble fiber, found in whole-grain products and vegetables, passes directly through the digestive system, helping to rid the body of waste products.

Fluorescein Angiography

A method of taking a picture of the flow of blood in the vessels of the eye by tracing the progress of an injected dye.

Food Exchange

See: Exchange lists.

Foot Care

Taking special steps to avoid foot problems such as sores, cuts, bunions, and calluses. Good care includes daily examination of the feet, toes, and toenails and choosing shoes and socks or stockings that fit well. People with diabetes have to take special care of their feet because nerve damage and reduced blood flow sometimes mean they will have less feeling in their feet than normal. They may not notice cuts and other problems as soon as they should.

Fractional Urine

Urine that a person collects for a certain period of time during 24 hours; usually from breakfast to lunch, from lunch to supper, from supper to bedtime, and from bedtime to rising. Also called "block urine."

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.

Funduscopy

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.


G

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. Food is not digested properly and does not move through the stomach in a normal way, resulting in vomiting, nausea, or bloating and interfering with diabetes management. See also: Autonomic neuropathy.

Gene

A basic unit of heredity. Genes are made of DNA, a substance that tells cells what to do and when to do it. The information in the genes is passed from parent to child-for example, a gene might tell some cells to make the hair red or the eyes brown.

Genetic

Relating to genes. See also: Gene; heredity.

Gestation

The length of pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)

A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of the pregnancy, the woman may have glucose (sugar) in the blood at a higher than normal level. However, when the pregnancy ends, the blood glucose levels return to normal in about 95 percent of all cases.

Gingivitis

An inflammation of the gums that if left untreated may lead to periodontal disease, a serious gum disorder. Signs of gingivitis are inflamed and bleeding gums. See also: Periodontal disease.

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. See also: Endocrine glands.

Glaucoma

An eye disease associated with increased pressure within the eye. Glaucoma can damage the optic nerve and cause impaired vision and blindness.

Glomerular Filtration Rate

Measure of the kidneys' ability to filter and remove waste products.

Glomeruli

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

Glucagon

A hormone that raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The alpha cells of the pancreas (in areas called the islets of Langerhans) make glucagon when the body needs to put more sugar into the blood.

An injectable form of glucagon, which can be bought in a drug store, is sometimes used to treat insulin shock. The glucagon is injected and quickly raises blood glucose levels. See also: Alpha cell.

Glucose

A simple sugar found in the blood. It is the body's main source of energy; also known as dextrose. See also: Blood glucose.

Glucose Tolerance Test

A test to see if a person has diabetes. The test is given in a lab or 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 has 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.

Glycemic Response

The effect of different foods on blood glucose (sugar) levels over a period of time. Researchers have discovered that some kinds of foods may raise blood glucose levels more quickly than other foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates.

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.

Glycogenesis (or glucogenesis)

The process by which glycogen is formed from glucose. See also: Glycogen.

Glycosuria

Having glucose (sugar) in the urine.

Glycosylated Hemoglobin Test

A blood test that measures a person's average blood glucose (sugar) level for the 2- to 3-month period before the test. See: Hemoglobin A1C.

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.


H

HCF Diet

A high-carbohydrate, high-fiber diet.

Hemocromatosis

See: Bronze diabetes.

Hemodialysis

A mechanical method of cleaning the blood for people who have kidney disease. See also: Dialysis.

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 4 months), a test to measure hemoglobin A1C shows what the person's average blood glucose level was for that period of time.

Heredity

The passing of a trait such as color of the eyes from parent to child. A person "inherits" these traits through the genes.

High Blood Pressure

When the blood flows 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. Also called hypertension.

Hives (Urticaria)

A skin reaction that results in slightly elevated patches that are redder or paler than the surrounding skin and often are accompanied by itching.

HLA Antigens

Proteins on the outer part of the cell that help the body fight illness. These proteins vary from person to person. Scientists think that people with certain types of HLA antigens are more likely to develop insulin-dependent diabetes.

Home Blood Glucose Monitoring

A way a person can test how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. Also called self-monitoring of blood glucose. See also: Blood glucose monitoring.

Homeostatis

When the body is working as it should because all of its systems are in balance.

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) for energy.

Human Insulin

Man-made insulins that are similar to insulin produced by your own body. Human insulin has been available since October 1982.

Hyperglycemia

Too high a level of glucose (sugar) in the blood; a sign that diabetes is out of control. Many things can cause hyperglycemia. It occurs when the body does not have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it does have to turn glucose into energy. Signs of hyperglycemia are a great thirst, a dry mouth, and a need to urinate often. For people with insulin-dependent diabetes, hyperglycemia may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.

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 noninsulin-dependent diabetes and in hypertension. See also: Syndrome X.

Hyperlipemia

See: Hyperlipidemia.

Hyperlipidemia

Too high a level of fats (lipids) in the blood. See also: Syndrome X.

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 of diabetes. Ketones (acids) are not present in the urine.

Hypertension

Blood pressure that is above the normal range. See also: High blood pressure.

Hypoglycemia

Too low a level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. This occurs when a person with diabetes has injected too much insulin, eaten too little food, or has exercised without extra food. A person with hypoglycemia may feel nervous, shaky, weak, or sweaty, and have a headache, blurred vision, and hunger. Taking small amounts of sugar, sweet juice, or food with sugar will usually help the person feel better within 10-15 minutes. See also: Insulin shock.

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.


I

IDDM

See: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

IGT

See: Impaired glucose tolerance.

Immunosuppressive Drugs

Drugs that block the body's ability to fight infection or foreign substances that enter the body. A person receiving a kidney or pancreas transplant is given these drugs to stop the body from rejecting the new organ or tissue. Cyclosporin is a commonly used immunosuppressive drug.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)

Blood glucose (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.

Implantable Insulin Pump

A small pump placed inside of the body that delivers insulin in response to commands from a hand-held device called a programmer.

Impotence

The loss of a man's ability to have an erect penis 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.

Incidence

How often a disease occurs; the number of new cases of a disease among a certain group of people for a certain period of time.

Ingestion

Taking food, water, or medicine into the body by mouth.

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.

Injection Site Rotation

Changing the places on the body where a person injects insulin. Changing the injection site keeps lumps or small dents from forming in the skin. These lumps or dents are called lipodystrophies. However, people should try to use the same body area for injections that are given at the same time each day-for example, always using the stomach for the morning injection or an arm for the evening injection. Using the same body area for these routine injections lessens the possibility of changes in the timing and action of insulin.

Insulin

A hormone that helps the body use glucose (sugar) for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas (in areas called the islets of Langerhans) make the insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin on its own, a person with diabetes must inject insulin made from other sources, i.e., beef, pork, human insulin (recombinant DNA origin), or human insulin (pork-derived, semisynthetic).

Insulin Allergy

When a person's body has an allergic or bad reaction to taking insulin made from pork or beef or from bacteria, or because the insulin is not exactly the same as human insulin or because it has impurities.

The allergy can be of two forms. Sometimes an area of skin becomes red and itchy around the place where the insulin is injected. This is called a local allergy.

In another form, a person's whole body can have a bad reaction This is called a systemic allergy. The person can have hives or red patches all over the body or may feel changes in the heart rate and in the rate of breathing. A doctor may treat this allergy by prescribing purified insulins or by desensitization. See also: Desensitization.

Insulin Antagonist

Something that opposes or fights the action of insulin. Insulin lowers the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood, whereas glucagon raises it; therefore, glucagon is an antagonist of insulin.

Insulin Binding

When insulin attaches itself to something else. This can occur in two ways. First, when a cell needs energy, insulin can bind with the outer part of the cell. The cell then can bring glucose (sugar) inside and use it for energy. With the help of insulin, the cell can do its work very well and very quickly. But sometimes the body acts against itself. In this second case, the insulin binds with the proteins that are supposed to protect the body from outside substances (antibodies). If the insulin is an injected form of insulin and not made by the body, the body sees the insulin as an outside or "foreign" substance. When the injected insulin binds with the antibodies, it does not work as well as when it binds directly to the cell.

Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM)

A chronic condition in which the pancreas makes little or no insulin because the beta cells have been destroyed. The body is then not able to use the glucose (blood sugar) for energy. IDDM usually comes on abruptly, although the damage to the beta cells may begin much earlier. The signs of IDDM are a great thirst, hunger, a need to urinate often, and loss of weight. To treat the disease, the person must inject insulin, follow a diet plan, exercise daily, and test blood glucose several times a day. IDDM usually occurs in children and adults who are under age 30. This type of diabetes used to be known as "juvenile diabetes," "juvenile-onset diabetes," and "ketosis-prone diabetes." It is also called type I diabetes mellitus.

Insulin-Induced Atrophy

Small dents that form on the skin when a person keeps injecting a needle in the same spot. They are harmless. See also: Lipoatrophy; injection site rotation.

Insulin-Induced Hypertrophy

Small lumps that form under the skin when a person keeps injecting a needle in the same spot. See also: Lipodystrophy; injection site rotation.

Insulin Pen

An insulin injection device the size of a pen that includes a needle and holds a vial of insulin. It 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 the 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. It is used by people with insulin-dependent diabetes.

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 10-15 minutes. See also: Hypoglycemia; insulin shock.

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

Many people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes produce enough insulin, but their bodies do not respond to the action of insulin. 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. Another kind of insulin resistance may happen in some people who take insulin injections. They may have to take very high doses of insulin every day (200 units or more) to bring their blood glucose (sugar) down to the normal range. This is also called "insulin insensitivity.

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. See also: Hypoglycemia; insulin reaction.

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 (sugar) level that is too low.

Intensive Intermittent Claudication

Pain in the muscles of the leg that occurs off and on, usually while walking or exercising, and results in lameness (claudication). The pain results from a narrowing of the blood vessels feeding the muscle. Drugs are available to treat this condition.

Intensive Management

A form of treatment for insulin-dependent diabetes in which the main objective is to keep blood glucose (sugar) levels as close to the normal range as possible. The treatment consists of three or more insulin injections a day or use of an insulin pump; four or more blood glucose tests a day; adjustment of insulin, food intake, and activity levels based on blood glucose test results; dietary counseling; and management by a diabetes team. See also: Diabetes Control and Complications Trial; team management.

Intramuscular Injection

Putting a fluid into a muscle with a needle and syringe.

Intravenous Injection

Putting a fluid into a vein with a needle and syringe.

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.

Islets of Langerhans

Special groups of cells in the pancreas. They make and secrete 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 somatostaton; and PP cells and D1 cells, about which little is known.


J

Jet Injector

A device that uses high pressure to propel insulin through the skin and into the body.

Juvenile Onset Diabetes

Former term for insulin-dependent or type I diabetes. See: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.


NIH Publication No. 94-3016
August 1994





References and Sources: Medline, Pubmed, National Institutes of Health.


last update: December 2008


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