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Diabetes Dictionary

  • A1C. A test that tells you how well controlled your blood sugar was over the past 2-3- month. The doctor will decide what the patient's A1C goal should be. For most people with diabetes, the recommended A1C is less than 7.
  • Beta cells. These are cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
  • Glucagon. A hormone that is released by the pancreas when your blood sugar falls too low. Glucagon signals your liver to release stored glucose and raise your blood sugar. Glucagon is available in an injectable form. It works quickly to raise your blood sugar if you pass out from low blood sugar.
  • Glucose. Blood glucose is another way to say sugar.
  • Hormone. A natural substance that is a made by glands in the body and that control the activity of certain cells or organs.
  • Hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar. Typically occurs when blood glucose dips below 70 mg/dl (milligrams/deciliter). Milligrams/deciliter is the standard unit for measuring blood glucose in blood.
  • Hyperglycemia. High blood sugar. This is generally a blood glucose level of 180 mg/dl (milligrams/deciliter) but symptoms may not start to become noticeable until later numbers reach 270-360 mg/dl.
  • Pancreas. A large gland behind the stomach that makes pancreatic juices, or enzymes, to help the body digest food. It also makes the hormones insulin and glucagon.
  • Insulin. A hormone made by the pancreas that helps sugar move from the blood into the cells where it is used for energy. Insulin is also a medicine that is used to treat diabetes by controlling the level of sugar in the blood.
  • Type 1 diabetes. A condition that occurs when the pancreas no longer makes insulin, the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It usually develops in children or young adults. Persons with type 1 diabetes need insulin (delivered by injection, pump, or oral medications) in order to store and use glucose. 5% to 10% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes. A condition that develops when the body stops recognizing the insulin secreted by the pancreas. It begins with insulin resistance and leads to decreased insulin secretion. The cells are unable to use the insulin being produced and eventually the pancreas stops making it. Nearly 95% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
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