Terms & Definitions

T1D words to know

Definitions for words found on our website that may not be familiar.

A1C 
A test that measures a person's average blood sugar level over the past 2 to 3 months.

Antibody
Proteins made by the body to protect itself from invasion of "foreign" substances, such as bacteria or viruses. People get type 1 diabetes when their bodies make antibodies that mistakenly attack healthy insulin-making beta cells.

Antigen
Any substance that causes a person’s immune system to produce autoantibodies (attack healthy cells).

Autoantibody
A protein produced by the body’s immune system that attacks one or more of its healthy proteins. 

Autoimmunity
The body’s systematic immune response against its own healthy cells and tissues.

Autoimmune disease
A disorder of the body's immune system where the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue it believes to be foreign.

Beta cells
The cells in the body that makes insulin. Beta cells are located in the islets of the pancreas.

Blood sugar (also called blood glucose)
The main sugar found in the blood, and the body's main source of energy.

Blood sugar level (also called blood glucose level) 
The amount of sugar in a given amount of blood. It is noted in milligrams.

Blood glucose meter
A small, portable machine used by people with diabetes to check their blood glucose (sugar) levels. After pricking the skin, a drop of blood is placed on a test strip. The test strip in placed in a machine, which displays the blood glucose level as a number on the digital display.

Blood glucose monitoring
Checking blood glucose level on a regular basis in order to manage diabetes.

Certified diabetes educator (CDE) 
A health care professional specializing in diabetes education who has met eligibility requirements and successfully completed a certification exam

Complications of T1D
Harmful effects of diabetes, such as damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, teeth and gums, feet and skin, or kidneys. Research shows that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels close to normal can help prevent or delay these problems.

Continuous glucose monitor (CGM)
A system that uses a tiny sensor inserted under the skin to check glucose (sugar) levels. The sensor stays in place for several days to a week and then is replaced. A transmitter sends glucose levels via radio waves from the sensor to a pager-like wireless monitor. Because currently approved CGM devices are not as accurate as standard blood glucose meters, users should confirm glucose levels with a meter before making a change in treatment.

Diabetes educator 
A health care professional who teaches people how to manage their diabetes. Some diabetes educators are certified diabetes educators (CDE). Diabetes educators are found in hospitals, physician offices, managed care organizations, home healthcare and other settings.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
A life-threatening condition that can occur in people with type 1 diabetes. DKA happens when there is a shortage of insulin. In response, the body switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies that cause most of the symptoms and complications. Signs of DKA include vomiting, sleepiness, fruity smelling breath, difficulty breathing, and, if untreated, coma and death.

Endocrinologist 
A doctor trained in managing, diagnosing, and treating endocrine disorders, such as diabetes.

Glucose
A carbohydrate and the most important simple sugar in human metabolism.

Glucose meter
A small portable machine used to check blood glucose (sugar) levels. After pricking the skin, a drop of blood is placed on a test strip in the machine. The meter (or monitor) displays the blood glucose level as a number on a digital display.

Glucose monitoring
Glucose monitoring helps people with diabetes manage the disease and avoid complications. A person can use the results of glucose monitoring to make decisions about food, physical activity, and medications.

Honeymoon phase 
Some people with type 1 diabetes experience a brief remission called the "honeymoon phase." During this time, the pancreas may still make some insulin. But over time, insulin production stops and insulin injections become necessary. The honeymoon phase can last weeks, months, or even up to a year or more.

Hyperglycemia
The medical term for high blood glucose (sugar). It occurs when the body has too little insulin or when the body can't use insulin properly.

Hypoglycemia
The medical term for low blood glucose (sugar). It occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels.

Immune system
The body's system for protecting itself from viruses and bacteria or any "foreign" substances.

Insulin
A hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food you eat. Insulin helps keep your blood sugar level from getting to high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).

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. It connects to narrow, flexible plastic tubing connected to a needle that is inserted just under the skin. Users set the pump to give a steady trickle of insulin throughout the day. The pump releases a larger single dose of insulin (several units at a time) at meals and times when blood glucose is too high.

Islet cell autoantibodies (ICA)
Proteins found in the blood of people with type 1 diabetes and people who may be developing type 1 diabetes. Presence of ICA indicates damaged beta cells in the pancreas.

Lancet
A spring-loaded device used to prick the skin with a small needle to obtain a drop of blood for blood glucose (sugar) monitoring.

Mixed Meal Tolerance Test (MMTT)
A test that tells doctors how much insulin your body is making. It involves drinking a special mixture of protein, fat and carbohydrates. The drink raises blood sugar, causing beta cells to make insulin. An intravenous catheter (I.V.) is placed in a vein in the arm from which 11 blood samples are taken at set times over the next four hours. The samples are sent to a lab for analysis.  

Nutritionist
A person with training in nutrition, who may or may not have specialized training and qualifications. See dietitian.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
A test to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes. After an overnight fast, a blood sample is taken, and then the patient drinks a high glucose beverage. Blood samples are taken at intervals over 2 to 3 hours. Test results are compared with a standard and measure how the body uses glucose over time.

Pancreas 
An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. It is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.

Pediatric endocrinologist 
A doctor who treats children who have endocrine disorders, such as diabetes.

Risk factor
Anything that raises the chances of a person developing a disease.

Side effects                         
The unintended action(s) of a drug or treatment.

Symptoms of T1D
Caused by high levels of glucose in the blood, T1D symptoms include increased thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, and feeling tired all the time. These symptoms may be mistaken for severe flu or another rapid-onset illness.

Type 1 diabetes 
A condition characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels caused by a lack of insulin. Occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can happen in adults.