This page will try to explain and/or define some of the diabetes specific terminology and abbreviations you will see used on this site. This is in no way meant to be an all inclusive list

A1C = A test that measures a person’s average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months. Diabetics use it as a report card to measure their diabetes management

Autoimmune Disease= disorder of the body’s immune system in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.

BS = Blood Sugar. See BG

BG = Blood Glucose. The main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy. Also called blood sugar.

Basal = A steady trickle of low levels of insulin like that used in insulin pumps. Released steadily over the course of 24 hours. Also referred to as “background insulin”

Bolus = An extra amount of insulin taken to cover an expected rise in blood glucose, often related to a meal or snack, or given for a correction to a high blood sugar

Carb/Carbohydrate = any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They contain hydrogen and oxygen in the same ratio as water (2:1) and typically can be broken down to release energy in the body

CGM = Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems use a tiny sensor inserted under the skin to check glucose levels in tissue fluid. The sensor stays in place for several days to a week and then must be replaced. A transmitter sends information about glucose levels via radio waves from the sensor to a pagerlike wireless monitor. The user must check blood samples with a glucose meter to program the devices. Because currently approved CGM devices are not as accurate and reliable as standard blood glucose meters, users should confirm glucose levels with a meter before making a change in treatment.

Combo Bolus =  lets pump users calculate the amount of insulin required and split it, so some is delivered right away (normal bolus) and the rest over time (extended bolus)

DAD = Diabetic Alert Dog

Dawn Phenomenon = An early-morning (4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) rise in blood glucose level

DKA/Diabetic Ketoacidosis = An emergency condition in which extremely high blood glucose levels, along with a severe lack of insulin, result in the breakdown of body fat for energy and an accumulation of ketones in the blood and urine. Signs of DKA are nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fruity breath odor and rapid breathing. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and death.

DOC = the abbreviation stands for Diabetic Online Community

Endocrinologist/Endo = A doctor who treats people who have endocrine gland problems such as diabetes.

Glucagon = A hormone produced by the alpha cells in the pancreas. It raises blood glucose. An injectable form of glucagon, available by prescription, may be used to treat severe hypoglycemia.

Glucose = A simple sugar that is an important energy source in living organisms and is a component of many carbohydrates

Hyperglycemia = High blood glucose (blood sugar). High blood glucose happens when the body has too little insulin or when the body can’t use insulin properly. For us, Blood sugar over 165 is considered high.

Hypoglycemia = Low blood glucose (blood sugar) It is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low. Blood sugar at or below this level can harm you.

Insulin = A hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas. It has three important functions:

  1. Allow glucose to pass into cells, where it is used for energy.
  2. Suppress excess production of sugar in the liver and muscles.
  3. Suppress breakdown of fat for energy.

In the absence of insulin, blood sugar levels rise because muscle and fat cells aren’t able to utilize glucose for energy. They signal the body that they’re “hungry.” The liver then releases glycogen, a form of stored glucose. This further increases the blood sugar level. When the blood sugar level reaches about 180 mg/dl, glucose begins to spill into the urine. Large amounts of water are needed to dissolve the excess sugar, resulting in excessive thirst and urination.

Without glucose for energy, the body begins to metabolize protein and fat. Fat metabolism results in the production of ketones in the liver. Ketones are excreted in the urine along with sodium bicarbonate, which results in a decrease in the pH of the blood. This condition is called acidosis. Left unchecked, a person in this situation will fall into a coma and die.

See more here:

IOB = Insulin on board (IOB) The amount of insulin that is still active in the body from a previous correction bolus dose. The amount of time insulin remains “on board” or active depends on each individual’s duration of insulin action.

Insulin Pump/Pump = An insulin-delivering device about the size of a beeper that can be worn on a belt or kept in a pocket. An insulin pump connects to narrow, flexible plastic tubing that ends with a needle inserted just under the skin. Users set the pump to give a steady trickle or basal amount of insulin continuously throughout the day. Pumps release bolus doses of insulin (several units at a time) at meals and at times when blood glucose is too high, based on programming done by the user.

Ketones = a chemical produced when there is a shortage of insulin in the blood and the body breaks down body fat for energy. High levels of ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and coma. This condition is quite serious and requires immediate medical attention. DKA is the most common cause of hospitalization and death among children and young adults with diabetes, and the leading cause of adverse events for pump users.

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

Meter = A machine used by diabetics to check their blood glucose levels. After pricking the skin they place a drop of blood on a test strip in the machine. The meter then displays the blood glucose level as a number on the meter’s display.

Neuropathy = Disease or dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness.

Pancreas = an organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand

Type 1 Diabetes/T1 = a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by a total lack of insulin. Occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults. There is no cure or reversal.

Type 2 Diabetes/T2 = a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people. Sometimes can be reversed/minimized by managing diet and exercise



  1. Pingback: Diabetes Terminology | I am a Pancreas

  2. Ketones confuse me when referred to in statements like “he has ketones” and such. Also, does a person without diabetes have Ketones? Are ketones bad? Im confused.
    Also, AIC. What id a normal number for someone whos non diabetic? Whats death type number?

  3. what exactly does the pancreas do? Does it keep my BG levels even (and what number?) Or do they rise to really high or low numbers and then the pancreas fixes it? And if the pancreas deals with insulin what does it do for a low? Are things like she’s high after dinner happen for us too, just our pancreas controls it?
    Sorry for al the questions haha im a curious person

  4. If you measure ketones how do you know when to measure them?

    • Stella is not prone to spilling ketones, some diabetics are much more likely. For us, it is generally when Stella has a cold and has had a high BS for several hours

  5. Pingback: Diabetic Speak | Raising A Dia-Bad-Ass

  6. Wow I had no idea there was this much terminology to know about diabetes, I am just starting to learn about it in school.