Glossary

B

Beta cells

Beta cells are found in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. They produce and release insulin.

C

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)

Cardiovascular diseases are defined as diseases and injuries of the circulatory system: the heart, the blood vessels of the heart and the system of blood vessels throughout the body and to (and in) the brain. Stroke is the result of a blood flow problem within, or leading to, the brain and is considered a form of CVD.

D

Diabetes complications

Diabetes complications are acute and chronic conditions caused by diabetes. Chronic complications include retinopathy (eye disease), nephropathy (kidney disease), neuropathy (nerve disease), cardiovascular disease (disease of the circulatory system), foot ulceration and amputation.

Diabetes mellitus (DM)

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition that arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin produced. There are two basic forms of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. People with type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin but cannot use it effectively.

Diabetic foot

A foot that exhibits any pathology that results directly from diabetes or complication of diabetes.

E

Epidemiology

The study of the occurrence and distribution of health-related states or events in specified populations, including the study of the determinants influencing such states, and the application of this knowledge to the control of health problems.

G

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)

Diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy in women.

Glucose

The main sugar the body produces from proteins, fats and 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 the help of insulin.

Glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c)

Glycosylated or glycated haemoglobin is a test that gives a representation of your average blood glucose level over the past three months. It is usually reported as a percentage and gives an indication of your overall level of control.

H

Hyperglycaemia

A raised level of glucose in the blood. It occurs when the body does not have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it does have to turn glucose into energy. Some of the symptoms of hyperglycaemia are fatigue, lack of energy, thirst, dry mouth and need to urinate often.

Hypoglycaemia

The level of glucose in the blood has dropped below 72mg/dl or 4 mmol/L. This occurs when there is too much insulin for the amount of food, or when glucose has been used up quickly during and after activity. A person with hypoglycaemia may feel nervous, shaky, weak, sweaty, have a headache, blurred vision and hunger.

I

Impaired fasting glucose (IFG)

Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) is when the morning blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes. For a full definition see the diagnostic criteria (www.who.int/diabetes). People with IFG are at increased risk of developing diabetes.

Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)

Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is when the blood glucose goes higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes after ingesting a standard amount of glucose in an oral glucose tolerance test. For a full definition see the diagnostic criteria (www.who.int/diabetes). People with IGT are at increased risk of developing diabetes.

Incidence

Incidence indicates how often a disease occurs. More precisely, it corresponds to the number of new cases of a disease among a certain group of people for a certain period of time.

Insulin

A hormone whose main action is to enable glucose to be transported from the blood into the body cells so it can be used for energy. Insulin is produced by the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.

Islets of Langerhans

Named after Paul Langerhans, the German scientist who discovered them in 1869, these clusters of cells are located in the pancreas. They produce and secrete hormones that help the body break down and use food. There are five types of cells in an islet including beta cells which produce insulin.

N

Nephropathy

Kidney disease caused by damage to small blood vessels resulting in the kidneys becoming less efficient, or failing.

Neuropathy

Damage to nerves resulting in tingling, pins and needles, pain or complete loss of feeling. Neuropathy may occur anywhere in the body but often starts in the lower legs and feet.

P

Pancreas

The pancreas is an organ situated behind the lower part of the stomach. The pancreas produces many types of enzymes that assist in digestion and well as housing the Islets of Langerhans.

R

Retinopathy

Retinopathy is a disease of the retina of the eye which may cause visual impairment and blindness.

S

Stroke

A sudden loss of function in part of the brain as a result of the interruption of blood supply due to a blocked or burst artery.

T

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes mellitus develops most frequently in children and adolescents. About 10% of people with diabetes have type 1. The symptoms of type 1 vary in intensity. Symptoms include excessive thirst, excessive passing of urine, weight loss and lack of energy. Insulin is a life-sustaining medication for people with type 1 diabetes. They require daily insulin injections for survival.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is much more common than type 1, and occurs mainly in adults although it is now also increasingly found in children and adolescents. The symptoms of type 1, in a less marked form, may also affect people with type 2. Some people with type 2, however, have no early symptoms and are only diagnosed several years after the onset of the condition, when various diabetic complications are already present. People with type 2 may require oral hypoglycaemic drugs and may also need insulin injections.