Common Terms: F-K

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.

A-E | F-K | L-R | S-Z

fasting blood glucose test
a check of a person's blood glucose level after the person has not eaten for 8 to 12 hours (usually overnight). This test is used to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes. It is also used to monitor people with diabetes.

fat
one of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide fat are butter, margarine, salad dressing, oil, nuts, meat, poultry, fish and some dairy products. 2. Excess calories are stored as body fat, providing the body with a reserve supply of energy and other functions.

fluorescein angiography (fluh-RESS-ee-in an-gee-AH-grah-fee)
a test to examine blood vessels in the eye; done by injecting dye into an arm vein and then taking photos as the dye goes through the eye's blood vessels.

fructosamine test (frook-TOH-sah-meen)
measures the number of blood glucose molecules (MAH-leh-kyools) linked to protein molecules in the blood. The test provides information on the average blood glucose level for the past 3 weeks.

fructose (FROOK-tohss)
a sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and honey. Fructose has 4 calories per gram.

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gangrene (GANG-green)
the death of body tissue, most often caused by a lack of blood flow and infection. It can lead to amputation.

gastroparesis (gas-tro-puh-REE-sis)
a form of neuropathy that affects the stomach. Digestion of food may be incomplete or delayed, resulting in nausea, vomiting, or bloating, making blood glucose control difficult.

gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) (jes-TAY-shun-ul MELL-ih-tus)
a type of diabetes mellitus that develops only during pregnancy and usually disappears upon delivery, but increases the risk that the mother will develop diabetes later. GDM is managed with meal planning, activity, and, in some cases, insulin.

gingivitis (JIN-jih-VY-tis)
a condition of the gums characterized by inflammation and bleeding.

gland
a group of cells that secrete substances. Endocrine glands secrete hormones. Exocrine glands secrete salt, enzymes and water.

glargine insulin (GLAR-jeen)
very-long-acting insulin. On average, glargine insulin starts to lower blood glucose levels within 1 hour after injection and keeps working evenly for 24 hours after injection.

glaucoma (glaw-KOH-muh)
an increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that may lead to loss of vision.

glimepiride (gly-MEH-per-ide)
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: Amaryl)

glipizide (GLIH-pih-zide)
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 names: Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL)

glomerular filtration rate (glo-MEHR-yoo-lur)
measure of the kidney's ability to filter and remove waste products.

glomerulus (glo-MEHR-yoo-lus)
a tiny set of looping blood vessels in the kidney where the blood is filtered and waste products are removed.

glucagon (GLOO-kah-gahn)
a hormone produced by the alpha cells in the pancreas. It raises blood glucose. An injectable form of glucagon, available by prescription, may be used to treat severe hypoglycemia.

glucose
one of the simplest forms of sugar.

glucose tablets
chewable tablets made of pure glucose used for treating hypoglycemia.

Glucovance
an oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It is a combination of glyburide and metformin.

glyburide (GLY-buh-ride)
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 names: DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase; ingredient in Glucovance)

glycemic index (gly-SEE-mik)
a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods, based on the food's effect on blood glucose compared with a standard reference food.

glycogen (GLY-koh-jen)
the form of glucose found in the liver and muscles.

glycosuria (gly-koh-SOOR-ee-ah)
the presence of glucose in the urine.

gram
a unit of weight in the metric system. An ounce equals 28 grams. In some meal plans for people with diabetes, the suggested amounts of food are given in grams.

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HDL cholesterol, stands for high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (kuh-LESS-tuh-rawl LIP-oh-PRO-teen)
a fat found in the blood that takes extra cholesterol from the blood to the liver for removal. Sometimes called "good" cholesterol.

heredity
the passing of a trait from parent to child.

honeymoon phase
Some people with type 1 diabetes experience a brief remission called the "honeymoon period." During this time their pancreas may still secrete some insulin. Over time, this secretion stops and as this happens, the person will require more insulin from injections. The honeymoon period can last weeks, months, or even up to a year or more.

hormone
a chemical produced in one part of the body and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular functions of the body. For example, insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that tells other cells when to use glucose for energy. Synthetic hormones, made for use as medicines, can be the same or different from those made in the body.

human leukocyte antigens (HLA)
proteins located on the surface of the cell that help the immune system identify the cell either as one belonging to the body or as one from outside the body. Some patterns of these proteins may mean increased risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.

hyperglycemia (HY-per-gly-SEE-mee-uh)
excessive blood glucose. Fasting hyperglycemia is blood glucose above a desirable level after a person has fasted for at least 8 hours. Postprandial hyperglycemia is blood glucose above a desirable level 1 to 2 hours after a person has eaten.

hyperinsulinemia (HY-per-IN-suh-lih-NEE-mee-uh)
a condition in which the level of insulin in the blood is higher than normal. Caused by overproduction of insulin by the body. Related to insulin resistance.

hyperlipidemia (HY-per-li-pih-DEE-mee-uh)
higher than normal fat and cholesterol levels in the blood.

hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) (HY-per-oz-MOH-lur HY-per-gly-SEE-mik non-kee-TAH-tik)
an emergency condition in which one's blood glucose level is very high and ketones are not present in the blood or urine. If HHNS is not treated, it can lead to coma or death.

hypertension (HY-per-TEN-shun)
a condition present when blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. Also called high blood pressure. Hypertension can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney problems and death.

hypoglycemia (hy-po-gly-SEE-mee-uh)
a condition that occurs when one's blood glucose is lower than normal, usually less than 70 mg/dL. Signs include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, and confusion. If left untreated, hypoglycemia may lead to unconsciousness. Hypoglycemia is treated by consuming a carbohydrate-rich food such as a glucose tablet or juice. It may also be treated with an injection of glucagon if the person is unconscious or unable to swallow. Also called an insulin reaction.

hypoglycemia unawareness (un-uh-WARE-ness)
a state in which a person does not feel or recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia. People who have frequent episodes of hypoglycemia may no longer experience the warning signs of it.

hypotension (hy-poh-TEN-shun)
low blood pressure or a sudden drop in blood pressure. Hypotension may occur when a person rises quickly from a sitting or reclining position, causing dizziness or fainting.

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IDDM (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus)
former term for Type 1 diabetes.

immune system (ih-MYOON)
the body's system for protecting itself from viruses and bacteria or any "foreign" substances.

immunosuppressant (ih-MYOON-oh-suh-PRESS-unt)
a drug that suppresses the natural immune responses. Immunosuppressants are given to transplant patients to prevent organ rejection or to patients with autoimmune diseases.

impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
a condition in which a blood glucose test, taken after an 8- to 12-hour fast, shows a level of glucose higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. IFG, also called pre-diabetes, is a level of 100 mg/dL to 125 mg/dL. Most people with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but are not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. IGT, also called pre-diabetes, is a level of 140 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL 2 hours after the start of an oral glucose tolerance test. Most people with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Other names for IGT that are no longer used are "borderline," "subclinical," "chemical," or "latent" diabetes.

implantable insulin pump (im-PLAN-tuh-bull)
a small pump placed inside the body to deliver insulin in response to remote-control commands from the user.

impotence (IM-po-tents)
the inability to get or maintain an erection for sexual activity. Also called erectile (ee-REK-tile) dysfunction (dis-FUNK-shun).

incidence (IN-sih-dints)
a measure of 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.

incontinence (in-KON-tih-nents)
loss of bladder or bowel control; the accidental loss of urine or feces.

inhaled insulin
an experimental treatment for taking insulin using a portable device that allows a person to breathe in insulin.

injection (in-JEK-shun)
inserting liquid medication or nutrients into the body with a syringe. A person with diabetes may use short needles or pinch the skin and inject at an angle to avoid an intramuscular injection of insulin.

injection site rotation
changing the places on the body where insulin is injected. Rotation prevents the formation of lipodystrophies.

injection sites
places on the body where insulin is usually injected.

insulin
a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, it is taken by injection or through use of an insulin pump.

insulin adjustment
a change in the amount of insulin a person with diabetes takes based on factors such as meal planning, activity and blood glucose levels.

insulin analogues
An insulin analogue is a tailored form of insulin in which certain amino acids in the insulin molecule have been modified. The analogue acts in the same way as the original insulin, but with some beneficial differences for people with diabetes. Analogues are sometimes referred to as "designer" insulins.

insulin pen
a device for injecting insulin that looks like a fountain pen and holds replaceable cartridges of insulin. Also available in disposable form.

insulin pump
an insulin-delivering device about the size of a deck of cards that can be worn on a belt or kept in a pocket. An insulin pump connects to narrow, flexible plastic tubing that ends with a needle inserted just under the skin. Users set the pump to give a steady trickle or basal amount of insulin continuously throughout the day. Pumps release bolus doses of insulin (several units at a time) at meals and at times when blood glucose is too high, based on programming done by the user.

insulin reaction
when the level of glucose in the blood is too low (at or below 70 mg/dL). Also known as hypoglycemia.

insulin receptors
areas on the outer part of a cell that allow the cell to bind with insulin in the blood. When the cell and insulin bind, the cell can take glucose from the blood and use it for energy.

insulin resistance
the body's inability to respond to and use the insulin it produces. Insulin resistance may be linked to obesity, hypertension, and high levels of fat in the blood.

insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)
former term for Type 1 diabetes.

insulinoma (IN-suh-lih-NOH-mah)
a tumor of the beta cells in the pancreas. An insulinoma may cause the body to make extra insulin, leading to hypoglycemia.

intensive therapy
a treatment for diabetes in which blood glucose is kept as close to normal as possible through frequent injections or use of an insulin pump; meal planning; adjustment of medicines; and exercise based on blood glucose test results and frequent contact with a person's health care team.

intermediate-acting insulin
a type of insulin that starts to lower blood glucose within 1 to 2 hours after injection and has its strongest effect 6 to 12 hours after injection, depending on the type used. See lente insulin and NPH insulin.

intermittent claudication (IN-ter-MIT-ent CLAW-dih-KAY-shun)
pain that comes and goes in the muscles of the leg. This pain results from a lack of blood supply to the legs and usually happens when walking or exercising.

intramuscular injection (in-trah-MUS-kyoo-lar)
inserting liquid medication into a muscle with a syringe. Glucagon may be given by subcutaneous or intramuscular injection for hypoglycemia.

islet cell autoantibodies (ICA) (EYE-let aw-toe-AN-ti-bod-eez)
proteins found in the blood of people newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They are also found in people who may be developing Type 1 diabetes. The presence of ICA indicates that the body's immune system has been damaging beta cells in the pancreas.

islet transplantation
moving the islets from a donor pancreas into a person whose pancreas has stopped producing insulin. Beta cells in the islets make the insulin that the body needs for using blood glucose.

islets
groups of cells located in the pancreas that make hormones that help the body break down and use food. For example, alpha cells make glucagon and beta cells make insulin. Also called islets of Langerhans (LANG-er-hahns).

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jet injector (in-JEK-tur)
a device that uses high pressure instead of a needle to propel insulin through the skin and into the body.

juvenile diabetes
former term for insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), or Type 1 diabetes.

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ketone
a chemical produced when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood and the body breaks down body fat for energy. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and coma. Sometimes referred to as ketone bodies.

ketonuria (key-toe-NUH-ree-ah)
a condition occurring when ketones are present in the urine, a warning sign of diabetic ketoacidosis.

ketosis (ke-TOE-sis)
a ketone buildup in the body that may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis. Signs of ketosis are nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

kidney failure
a chronic condition in which the body retains fluid and harmful wastes build up because the kidneys no longer work properly. A person with kidney failure needs dialysis or a kidney transplant. Also called end-stage renal (REE-nul) disease or ESRD.

kidneys
the two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood and form urine. The kidneys are located near the middle of the back. They send urine to the bladder.

Kussmaul breathing (KOOS-mall)
the rapid, deep, and labored breathing of people who have diabetic ketoacidosis.

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  • Last Reviewed: August 2, 2013
  • Last Edited: April 7, 2014

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