My Handy Guide to Diabetes Terminology

everyone loves a good word bank

Since diabetes is a very confusing and complex disease to understand, I wanted to put together a lil word bank of fun terms that I will use pretty often here, just to make it easier to follow along with everything I’m talking about.

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Low Blood Sugar: Low blood sugar occurs any time blood sugar drops below a certain number. For me, this is anything under 80 mg/dL. A low can occur for many reasons: too much insulin due to miscalculation, exercise, hot weather, a shower, injecting insulin directly into muscle, etc. When my blood sugar is low, you feel weak, light-headed, shaky, delirious, starving, sweaty, swinging from tall buildings and beating your fists on your chest, whiny, etc.

High Blood Sugar: High blood sugar occurs when glucose levels go above a certain number. For example, I categorize my blood sugar as “high” whenever it’s above 200 mg/dL For non-diabetics, this number is much lower due to a naturally tighter control of numbers. High blood sugar can occur from the miscalculation of not taking enough insulin for the carbohydrates or correction of your blood sugar, stress, adrenaline, sickness, time of the month, etc. When my blood sugar is high I feel bratty, irritable, nauseous, blurred vision, thirsty, like I could single-handedly yell at a stranger without facing any consequences, and tired.

Check My Sugar: Using a Blood Glucose Monitor (pictured below) to test my blood sugar numbers. To check blood sugar, you prick your finger, draw a small drop of blood, and insert it into a device to reveal your number.

Blood Sugar: The concentration of glucose in the blood. This can also be referred to as your ‘blood glucose’.

Insulin: The drug diabetic’s use to control blood sugar levels. It’s our lifeline. Bad things happen if we don’t have it (like death).

Pen: An insulin pen, a fancy contraption that houses the insulin that I inject into my body. (pictured below)

Pump: A device that some diabetics use to inject insulin into their body. This device is connected to the skin by a small tube and administers insulin on command and automatically throughout the day.  Also referred to as an insulin pump.

Bolus or Inject: The act of taking insulin.

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CGM: This stands for Continuous Glucose Monitor. These are tiny devices attached to the body at all times that monitor blood sugar levels continuously throughout the day. This requires you to check your blood sugars less often.

Dexcom: The brand of my current Continuous Glucose Monitor.

A1C: The measurement of glucose, or blood sugar, in your blood by accessing the glycated hemoglobin over the past three months. A normal, non-diabetic A1C is anything lower than 5.7 percent.

Glucagon: A medicine that is administered through injection in the event of VERY low blood sugar, generally when the person becomes unresponsive. This has fast-acting glucose to raise blood sugar in a short amount of time.

Endocrinologist: A doctor specializing in the endocrine system aka my diabetes doc.

My list is always expanding as technology improves and I grow into an older/wiser human bean. Feel free to reach out if there are any terms I missed, or if you want to know more about a specific item on this list.

– Ariana

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