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Diabetes Lexicon

Diabetics are confronted again and again with medical technical terms. Here you will find the most important words/expressions for your better understanding.


This active substance prevents that the level of blood sugar rises dramatically after a meal. Acarbose restrains the dismantling affected by carbohydrates in the small intestine, in addition it influences the fat metabolism and the effect of insulin positively.

Adult onset diabetes

An antiquated and belittled expression of the most common type of diabetes mellitus - the so called type 2 diabetes.

Arteriosclerosis or Atherosclerosis

Diseased and dangerous change of the artery wall: the artery is getting hard, thick and narrow.


Over acidification of the blood, for example in consequence of a diabetic coma.

Beta cells

Those cells in the pancreas that create and dissolve the insulin.

Blood sugar

It indicates how much glucose (grape sugar) is in the blood. It’s either measured in milligram sugar per decilitre blood (mg/dL) or in millimol per litre (mmol/L). With healthy people the level of blood sugar never falls under 60 mg/dL (3.3 mmol/L) and does not rise over 140 mg/dL (7.7 mmol/L) – even after great meal.

Diabetic coma

Unconsciousness or consciousness disturbance, caused by a heavy Hyperglycaemia. A cause is either lack of insulin or insulin resistance (Although still enough insulin is present, the body cells can no longer use it correctly).


Cell fire; Body cells die in consequence of blood circulation disturbances. Appears mostly with the diabetic foot – in some cases, it requires amputation.

Glucose tolerance

Indicates, how the body reacts to sugar supply. Is necessary in order to recognize diabetes promptly. The patient swallows glucose (grape sugar), and the physician tests two hours later the blood sugar. If the value is over 140 mg/dL (7.7 mmol/L), one speaks of diabetes due to disturbed glucose tolerance - the preliminary stage.

HbA1, HbA1c-value

Measured by the physician, this value informs about the diabetes attitude during the last eight to ten weeks. Hb stands for the blood colouring material haemoglobin; if blood sugar is linked to haemoglobin, HbA1 is produced. If the value is over nine per cent, the metabolism is badly adjusted. HbA1c is a fraction of Hb, which is irreversible linked with sugar. It is more specific as HbA1. The target of an optimal diabetes therapy is to reach an HbA1c <6.5 %.


High level of blood sugar: blood sugar rises well over 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L). First complaints: strong thirst, tiredness, frequent urination. During the transition to diabetic coma arise nausea, vomiting, belly pain; the breathing air smells like acetone (i.e. like putrid apples or nail polisher).


Low level of blood sugar: blood sugar falls under 50 mg/dL (2.8 mmol/L). Noticeable warning symptoms are trembling, hunger feeling, swindle, sweats, whiteness, soft knees, beating of the heart, fear, headache. Heavy hypoglycaemia may lead to unconsciousness and convulsions.


A hormone, which helps the organism to use sugars and win energy out of it. Without insulin the body cells cannot do anything with the dissolved sugar in the blood.

Metabolic syndrome (synonym: Syndrome X)

Common occurrence of four risk factors of the cardiovascular system: 1. Obesity, 2. Increased cholesterol, 3. High blood pressure and 4. Diabetes.


A dangerous consequence of diabetes for many years is the so called “saccarification” of the smallest arterial blood vessels and capillary. The disturbed fine blood circulation leads to nephropathy and retinopathy.


Kidney damage. The diabetic Nephropathy is based on blood circulation disturbances.


Illness of the nerves. The neuropathy may affect all parts of the nervous system. It becomes frequently first apparent at feet and legs and is the substantial cause for the diabetic foot: The pain feeling is disturbed and injuries remain unnoticed.


The pancreas produces the life-essential hormone insulin.


Illness of the retina. The Retinopathy is one of the most frequent complications with badly controlled diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

Diabetes form which is characterized by an absolute lack of insulin. Body-own insulin production is exhausted quickly and at short notice, often already in the youth.

Type 2 diabetes

Starts mostly in the adult age. Creeping beginning, remains often many years unidentified. The pancreas produced still long time insulin, but the body cells can no more use the hormone correctly. Most of type 2 diabetics are overweight.


Abbreviation for cane or beet sugar. Colloquially used for diabetes mellitus.
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