People with Diabetes
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 Glossary for non-specialists
This section allows the researcher to scan quickly through the the definition of all terms used in the Diabetes-Stories website.

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To find a definition of a word used on this site, either click the letter of the alphabet the word starts with or scroll down to find it.

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Accutest: A blood glucose monitoring system

Acetone: One of the chemicals called ketones. Acetone on the breath can be smelt – it smells rather like pear drops. Ketones accumulate in the blood when there is too little insulin. High ketone levels can be dangerous and are the cause of ketoacidosis.

Actrapid: Early type of quick- and short-acting soluble insulin which had to be injected at least twice daily – often four times (before breakfast, midday meal, evening meal, and bed).

A & E: Accident and Emergency department.

magazine published by Diabetes UK.

BCh: Bachelor of Surgery degree.

Benedict's solution: a liquid solution used to test for sugar in urine. 

Biguanide: oral antihyperglycemic drug used for type 2 diabetes or prediabetes treatment.

BM: Bachelor of Medicine degree.

shorthand for “Caesarean section”, a surgical operation for delivering a baby by cutting through the wall of the mother’s abdomen.

CAPD: Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis – a form of internal dialysis which uses the natural membrane lining of the abdominal cavity to remove wastes and water from the blood, instead of filtering the blood using a haemodialysis machine.  Can be administered by the patient at home.

Chiropodist: a specialist in care for the feet.  (See also Podiatrist)

Cortisone: A hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands, and can be given as treatment in some adrenal deficiency states.

Culyer: The Culyer Report: Supporting Research and Development in the NHS”: a report to the Minister of Health, London , HMSO, 1994

DAFNE: Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating – an educational programme that teaches people how to adjust their insulin injections to fit their lifestyle rather than adjust their activities and food intake to a pre-set insulin regime.

DCCT:  Diabetes Control and Complications Trial - major USA clinical study of type 1 diabetes, conducted from 1983 to 1993, which showed that intensive control of blood glucose levels slows the onset of diabetic complications.

DRWF: The Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation (charity).


Fehling’s solution: a liquid solution used to test for sugar in urine. (See also Benedict’s solution.)

G.P.: general practitioner, based in a local surgery rather than a hospital.

Glargine: (trade name Lantus) a form of longer acting insulin.

Glucagon: a hormone produced in the pancreas which raises rather than lowers blood glucose. Because of this effect it can be injected if someone with diabetes has a low blood glucose, and for a short while the glucose will rise to normal. The effect, however, is fairly short, so as recovery occurs carbohydrate should be taken by mouth.

Glycosylated hemoglobin test: See HbA1c test.

Haemodialysis: a form of kidney dialysis, administered in hospitals, in which the blood is cleaned outside the body by a machine which passes the blood across a filter. 

HbA1c: Haemoglobin A1c.  The level of HbA1c reflects the average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. HbA1c of 6.5% is excellent. HbA1c of more than 10% shows very poor control.

“Human” insulin: used by interviewees to refer to genetically engineered insulin, first marketed in 1982.

Humulin: “human” insulin first manufactured by Lilly in the 1980s

Hyperglycaemia: an excess of glucose in the bloodstream.

Hypoglycaemia (“hypo”): a deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream which leads to progressive loss of consciousness. A severe hypo would mean that the person with diabetes was completely unaware of what was happening.

IGT: Impaired Glucose Tolerance – name given to define blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but below the level of a person with diabetes

a medium duration insulin typically administered at night and sometimes twice daily.

Isophane: see insulatard


Ketone: break down product of fat that accumulates in the blood as a result of inadequate insulin or inadequate calorie intake.

Lantus:a long-acting insulin given usually once a day to help control blood sugar level.

Laser treatment: interviewees use the phrase to refer to a variety of medical procedures employing a laser (a concentrated beam of light) to improve eyesight.

Lawrence, R.D. (1892-1868): English physician working at King’s College Hospital, London.  Co-founded the British Diabetes Association (now Diabetes UK) in 1934.

Lente: A type of insulin first produced by Novo in 1953 with an intermediate length of action

Metformin: popular drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Microalbuminuria: very small increase in albumin in the urine, which may indicate the onset of diabetic nephropathy.

Monotard: a long-acting zinc-based insulin.

MRCP: Membership of the Royal College of Physicians, a postgraduate exam for UK doctors.

N.H.S.: National Health Service, founded in 1948 to provide healthcare free at the point of use to the entire UK.

Nephropathy: diabetic nephropathy is a disease resulting from the destruction of the kidney’s delicate filtering system.

Neuropathy: disease or dysfunction of peripheral nerves. Neuropathy typically causes numbness of the feet in a so-called “stocking” distribution.

Nightingale ward: large, open-plan hospital ward with dormitory-style rows of beds and no sub-divisions.  Named after the pioneering nurse, Florence Nightingale.

National Institutes of Health, medical research centre, an agency of the United States Department of Health.

NovoPen: Pen-shaped insulin delivery device.

NovoRapid: the trade name for an analogue of insulin (aspart insulin) which is very short-acting.

NSF: National Health Service Framework - policies set by the UK National Health Service to establish requirements for the quality of care.

Phenformin: drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, no longer widely available.

PMS: Premenstrual syndrome.

Podiatrist: another term for chiropodist, favoured in the US and EU and used increasingly in the UK.

Protamine zinc: a longer-acting type of insulin introduced in 1936.

QOF:  Quality Outcomes Framework – an annual reward and incentive programme for all GP surgeries in England.

RAMC: Royal Army Medical Corps, a specialist corps in the British Army.

a doctor in the UK’s National Health Service who is receiving advanced training in a specialist field in order eventually to become a consultant in that field.

Retinopathy: disease of the retina which results in impairment or loss of vision. After 1980 retinopathy could be treated with laser treatment. Before 1980 severe retinopathy could result in blindness.

Semilente: a mixture of zinc and regular insulin. Discontinued as a brand.

SHO: Senior House Officer – a doctor undergoing specialist training within the UK’s National Health Service.

St. Vincent Declaration: a meeting of representatives of government health departments, patients' organizations and diabetes experts in St Vincent, Italy, in October 1989. They agreed on general goals and five-year targets for people with diabetes.

Sulfonylurea (UK: Sulphonylurea) derivatives: a class of drugs used in the management of type 2 diabetes.

TB: abbreviation of tuberculosis.

drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Type 1: a form of diabetes where the insulin-producing cells fail very rapidly. Previously called “juvenile-onset diabetes” because it is this type most commonly found in children. Insulin is needed to preserve life. A fatal disease before the discovery of insulin.

Type 2:  a form of diabetes where the insulin-producing cells fail slowly, but progressively. . Previously called “maturity-onset diabetes” because it is this type most commonly found overweight adults.. Insulin is not needed to preserve life. Type 2 diabetes can be treated with diet, exercise and oral agents early in its progress. Insulin is often required later.

U-40, U-80, U-100: different strengths (units per millilitre) of insulin.  U-100 became the standard strength prescribed in the UK and the USA from the 1970s. 

UGDP:  University Group Diabetes Program Study – USA study, published in the 1970s, which apparently showed that people being treated with oral anti-diabetic drugs were more likely to die a cardiovascular death – later disproved.

UKPDS: The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study – major UK clinical study of type 2 diabetes, conducted from 1977 to 1997, which showed that the lowering of raised blood glucose and blood pressure levels significantly reduces the life threatening complications of type 2 diabetes.

Ultralente: the longest-lasting of the three Lente insulins first produced by Novo in 1953

Ultratard: see ultralente

Velosulin: a trade name for a short-acting insulin.

WHO: World Health Organisation, the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations.




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