Pre-Diabetes and Diabetes Glossary of Medical Terms

A • B • C • D • E • F • G • H • I • J • K

L • M • N • O • P • Q • R • S • T

U • V • W • X • Y • Z

Medical Tests


Background Retinopathy: A type of damage to the retina of the eye marked by bleeding, fluid accumulation, and abnormal dilation of the blood vessels. Background retinopathy is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. Also called simple or nonproliferative (non-pro-LIF-er-uh-tiv) retinopathy.

Basal Rate: A steady trickle of low levels of longer-acting insulin, such as that used in insulin pumps.

picture of a human beta islet cell that makes insulin
A picture of a human beta islet cell found in the pancreas.

Beta Cell: A cell that makes insulin. Beta cells are located in the islets of the pancreas and are also called beta islet cells.

Blood Glucose:  The main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy. Also called “blood sugar.”

Blood Glucose Level: The amount of glucose in a given amount of blood.  It is noted in milligrams in a deciliter, or mg/dL.

UltraSmart blood glucose monitoring kit
One Touch UltraSmart

Blood Glucose Meter: Also called blood glucose monitoring kit.

A small, portable machine used by people with diabetes to check their blood glucose levels. After pricking the skin with a lancet, one places a drop of blood on a test strip in the machine. The meter (or monitor) soon displays the blood glucose level as a number on the meter’s digital display.

There are many types of blood glucose meters you can buy to check your blood glucose at home. On average, meters cost $15 to $150 dollars per kit.

People with prediabetes may need to check their blood sugar in the morning.
Lancing device used to draw a tiny drop of blood from the fingertip to test blood sugar. Some blood glucose meters allow you to test blood samples from the forearm.

Blood Glucose Monitoring: Checking blood glucose level on a regular basis in order to manage diabetes. A blood glucose meter (or blood glucose test strips that change color when touched by a blood sample) is needed for frequent blood glucose monitoring.

People with pre-diabetes generally do not need to test their blood sugar very often. But it is a good idea to check your fasting morning blood sugars from time to time to make sure your condition is not getting worse, or to detect type 2 diabetes as early as possible.

Blood Sugar: Another term used for  blood glucose.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): A waste product in the blood from the breakdown of protein. The kidneys filter blood to remove urea. As kidney function decreases, the BUN levels increase.
Blood Vessels: Tubes that carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, veins, and capillaries.
Body Mass Index (BMI): A 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.  Calculate Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
Bolus: An extra amount of insulin taken to cover an expected rise in blood glucose, often related to a meal or snack.
Borderline Diabetes: A former term for pre- iabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.
Brittle Diabetes:  A term used when a person’s blood glucose level moves uncontrollably from low to high and from high to low and is difficult to control.
BUN: See blood urea nitrogen.
Bunion: A bulge on the first joint of the big toe, caused by the swelling of a fluid sac under the skin. This spot can become red, sore, and infected.