AcetoneA chemical formed in the blood when the body uses fat instead of glucose (sugar) for energy. If acetone forms, it usually means that the cells do not have enough insulin, or cannot use the insulin that is in the blood, to use glucose for energy. Acetone passes through the body into the urine. Someone with a lot of acetone in the body can have breath that smells fruity and is called "acetone breath."
AcidosisToo much acid in the body. For a person with diabetes, this can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.
Amino AcidThe building blocks of proteins; the main material of the body's cells. Insulin is made of 51 amino acids joined together.
Autoimmune DiseaseDisorder of the body's immune system in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign. Insulin-dependent diabetes is an autoimmune disease because the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells.


Basal RateIn someone without diabetes, the pancreas delivers a small amount of insulin continuously, to cover the body's non-food related insulin needs. With insulin pumps, this is mimicked with the basal rate.

The basal rate is a continuous infusion of insulin and is programmed into a pump and delivered automatically as units/hour. This system of delivery closely matches pancreatic insulin delivery. Some people need more than one rate during a 24 hour time period; therefore, numerous different rates may be set in the pump. Each rate is called a Profile under the basal rate program. Profile 1 always starts at midnight and runs until a second profile is set or until midnight the next day.
Beta CellA type of cell in the pancreas in areas called the islets of Langerhans. Beta cells make and release insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Blood GlucoseThe main sugar that the body makes from the three elements of food - proteins, fats, and carbohydrates - but mostly from carbohydrates. Glucose is the major source of energy for living cells and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. However, the cells cannot use glucose without insulin.
Blood Glucose MeterA machine that helps test how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood.
Blood Glucose MonitoringA way of testing how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. A drop of blood, usually taken from the fingertip, is placed on the end of a specially coated strip, called a testing strip. The strip has a chemical on it that makes it change color according to how much glucose is in the blood. A person can tell if the level of glucose is low, high, or normal in one of two ways. The first is by comparing the color on the end of the strip to a color chart that is printed on the side of the test strip container. The second is by inserting the strip into a small machine, called a meter, which "reads" the strip and shows the level of blood glucose in a digital window display. Blood testing is more accurate than urine testing because it shows what the current level of glucose is, rather than what the level was an hour or so previously.
Body Mass IndexA measure used to evaluate body weight relative to a person's height. BMI is used to find out if a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.
BolusBefore each meal or snack, you will program the pump to deliver a dose of insulin prescribed by your diabetes clinician to cover what you eat. This dose is called the bolus dose. This dose can be varied based on planned exercise and your current blood sugar level.

A carbohydrate bolus is a meal bolus for people who count carbohydrates. Most people learn to give a specified amount of insulin for each portion (15 grams) of carbohydrate.

Boluses are also taken simply to lower high blood sugar. A correction bolus or supplemental bolus is a dose of insulin given to bring a high blood sugar back to target range.


CannulaThis is the small plastic tube at the end of the infusion set. It is inserted just under the skin in the abdominal area using a small needle. The insulin is delivered through this tube into the fatty tissue in your abdomen (see infusion set).
CarbohydrateMainly sugars and starches, together constituting one of the three principal types of nutrients used as energy sources (calories) by the body. Carbohydrates can also be defined chemically as neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Carbohydrate CountingA method of meal planning for people with diabetes based on counting the number of grams of carbohydrate in food.
Continuous Blood Glucose MonitoringA Continuous Blood Glucose Monitor (CGM) determines blood glucose levels on a continuous basis (every few minutes).


Dawn PhenomenonEarly morning (usually 4 am - 6 am) rise in blood sugar. Many people experience a rise in blood sugar due to the increase in levels of hormones (such as growth hormone) in the early morning.
Diabetic KetoacidosisHigh blood sugar values (above 17 mmol/L (300 mg/dL)) with the presence of persistent large amounts of ketones will result in blood becoming "acidotic". In the absence of enough insulin, the body breaks down fat for energy and ketones develop. People with DKA usually complain of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, and sometimes a fruity odour on their breath. This is a medical emergency, requiring Emergency Room/Hospital admission.


Endocrine GlandsGlands that release hormones into the bloodstream. They affect how the body uses food (metabolism). They also influence other body functions. One endocrine gland is the pancreas. It releases insulin so the body can use sugar for energy.
EndocrinologistA doctor who treats people who have problems with their endocrine glands. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder. See also: Endocrine glands.


Fatty AcidsA basic unit of fats. When insulin levels are too low or there is not enough glucose (sugar) to use for energy, the body burns fatty acids for energy. The body then makes ketone bodies, waste products that cause the acid level in the blood to become too high. This in turn may lead to ketoacidosis, a serious problem.
Foot CareTaking special steps to avoid foot problems such as sores, cuts, bunions, and calluses. Good care includes daily examination of the feet, toes, and toenails and choosing shoes and socks or stockings that fit well. People with diabetes have to take special care of their feet because nerve damage and reduced blood flow sometimes mean they will have less feeling in their feet than normal. They may not notice cuts and other problems as soon as they should.


GlucagonA hormone that raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The alpha cells of the pancreas (in areas called the islets of Langerhans) make glucagon when the body needs to put more sugar into the blood.

An injectable form of glucagon, which can be bought in a drug store, is sometimes used to treat insulin shock or severe hypoglycemia/low blood sugar glucose levels. The glucagon is injected and quickly raises blood glucose levels.
Glycemic ResponseThe effect of different foods on blood glucose (sugar) levels over a period of time. Researchers have discovered that some kinds of foods may raise blood glucose levels more quickly than other foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates.


HbA1c2-3 month average of blood sugar values. Normal range varies from 4% - 6% depending on the individual laboratory. This table describes how HbA1c relates to blood sugar values.
 HbA1c  Average Blood Sugar
 4  60mg/dL
 5  90mg/dL
 6  120mg/dL
 7  150mg/dL
 8  180mg/dL
 9  210mg/dL
 10  240mg/dL
HomeostatisWhen the body is working as it should because all of its systems are in balance.
HyperglycaemiaToo high a level of glucose in the blood; a sign that diabetes is out of control. Many things can cause hyperglycaemia. It occurs when the body does not have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it does have to turn glucose into energy. Signs of hyperglycaemia are great thirst, a dry mouth, and a need to urinate often. For people with Type 1 diabetes hyperglycaemia may lead to diabetic Ketoacidosis.
HypoglycaemiaBlood sugar values which are low - below 4 mmol/L (70 mg/dL).


Impaired Glucose ToleranceBlood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. People with IGT may or may not develop diabetes.
InsulinInsulin is a hormone produced by the Pancreas to aid accessing to the energy stored in the food. Largely this results from the ability of the body, under the influence of Insulin, to release sugar from the food intake, to store it and to use it, when needed, to drive our normal functions.
Insulin Pump TherapyA pump for delivering insulin in order to achieve tight blood sugar control and lifestyle flexibility while minimizing the effects of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). The pump is composed of a pump reservoir similar to that of an insulin cartridge, a battery-operated pump, and a computer chip that allows the user to control the exact amount of insulin being delivered.
The pump is attached to a thin plastic tube (an infusion set) that has a soft cannula (or needle) at the end through which insulin passes. This cannula is inserted under the skin, usually on the abdomen. The cannula is changed every 2 days. The tubing can be disconnected from the pump while showering or swimming. The pump is used for continuous insulin delivery, 24 hours a day. The amount of insulin is programmed and is administered at a constant rate (basal rate). Often, the amount of insulin needed over the course of 24 hours varies depending on factors like exercise, activity level, and sleep.
The insulin pump allows for the user to program many different basal rates to allow for this variation in lifestyle. In addition, the user can program the pump to deliver a "bolus" during meals to cover the excess demands of carbohydrate ingestion. The pump is currently the closest device on the market to an artificial pancreas.


PancreasA fish-shaped spongy grayish-pink organ about 6 inches (15 cm) long that stretches across the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. The head of the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen and is connected to the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine). The narrow end of the pancreas, called the tail, extends to the left side of the body.