Diabetes Dictionary

To take care and control of your diabetes means learning about diabetes and the many related medical and management terms. Diabetic Living has assembled these important-to-know words in an online diabetes dictionary. This diabetes dictionary has been adapted from the Diabetes Dictionary from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.


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Macrovascular disease: Disease of the large blood vessels, such as those in the heart. Lipids and blood clots can build up in the large blood vessels and cause atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Meglitinide: A type of oral blood glucose-lowering medication for type 2 diabetes that lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin right after meals and stops working soon after.

Metabolic syndrome: A grouping of health conditions associated with an increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is most often a central feature in metabolic syndrome. Conditions include hypertension, a large waist, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and above-normal blood glucose levels.

Metformin: An oral blood glucose-lowering medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. Metformin lowers blood glucose by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and helping the muscles make better use of the circulating glucose. Metformin belongs to the category of medicines called biguanides; however, this is the only one approved for use in the United States.

Microalbumin: Small amounts of the protein called albumin in the urine detectable with a special laboratory test.

Microvascular disease: Disease of the smallest blood vessels, such as those in the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. The walls of the vessels become abnormally thick but weak. Then they bleed, leak protein, and slow the flow of blood to the cells.

Monofilament: A short piece of nylon, like a hairbrush bristle, mounted on a wand. To check sensitivity of the nerves in the foot, a provider touches the filament to the bottom of the foot in several spots.

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Nephropathy: Disease of the kidneys. Hyperglycemia and hypertension can damage the kidneys' glomeruli. When the kidneys are damaged, protein leaks out of the kidneys into the urine. Damaged kidneys can no longer remove wastes and extra fluid from the bloodstream. A nephrologist is a physician who specializes in kidney disease.

Neuropathy: Disease of the nervous system. The three major forms in people with diabetes are peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and mononeuropathy. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the legs and feet. A neurologist is a physician who specializes in nerve diseases.

Obesity: A condition in which a greater than normal amount of fat is in the body. More severe than overweight, obesity is indicated by a body mass index of 30 or higher.

Ophthalmologist: A medical doctor who diagnoses and treats eye diseases and eye disorders. Ophthalmologists can also prescribe glasses and contact lenses; however, optometrists can also do this.

Oral glucose-tolerance test: A test most commonly used to diagnose gestational diabetes. This test is not necessary to diagnose prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in most cases. The oral glucose-tolerance test is given by a health care professional after an overnight fast. A blood sample is taken, then the person drinks a high-glucose beverage. Blood samples are taken at intervals for two to three hours. Test results are compared with a standard and show how the body uses glucose over time.