Type 2 Diabetes Glossary

As you learn about diabetes you may encounter unfamiliar words. Here is a glossary to help you understand some of those terms.

A1C test

A standard test that shows the average amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood over the past 2-3 months. This test tells you 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 produced by the liver and found in the blood; it is also found in some foods.


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, which can result in serious complications over time if not treated. The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes.

diabetes educator

A health care professional who teaches people who have diabetes how to manage their diabetes. Some diabetes educators are certified diabetes educators (CDEs).

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 between heart beats.

fasting blood sugar

Blood sugar level 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 that helps remove cholesterol from the blood. Generally, the higher your HDL, the better.

high blood sugar

(See hyperglycemia below)


The medical term for high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar.


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 move into your cells, where the sugar is
used for energy. The right amount of insulin helps keep your blood sugar at the right level. In type 2 diabetes, the
body does not make enough insulin, and/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.


"Bad" cholesterol, the type that can lead to accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries, and promotes
cardiovascular disease. Generally, the lower your LDL, the better.


An organ in the body that changes food into energy, removes alcohol and poisons from the blood, and makes bile, a substance that breaks down fats and helps rid the body of wastes.

low blood sugar

(see hypoglycemia above)


Milligrams per deciliter—a unit of measure that shows the concentration of a substance in a specific amount of fluid. In the United States, blood glucose test results are reported as mg/dL.


An organ that makes insulin, glucagon, and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.

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. Avoid foods high in saturated fat.

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. Trans fats can raise your cholesterol level. Avoid foods with trans fat.


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, and/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. By working with your health care team, you can take steps to manage diabetes.


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