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Brushing Up on Diabetes Lingo

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If words like "acidosis" or "retinopathy" have you running the other way, then it's about time we clarify some of these terms that are important to understanding diabetic self-care. Here are some and their meanings-it's about time you learned a lesson or two!

A1c: A test that can help a diabetic check health progress every three to four months.

Food exchanges: You'll notice this helpful tool on most packaged foods. It helps diabetics know what foods can be swapped for another food all while maintaining their diets.

Glucagon: A key hormone for raising blood-glucose levels.

Glycemic Index: A ranking of carbs based on their effect on blood glucose levels.

Hyperglycemia: Occurs when glucose levels are too high, often signaling that diabetes is spiraling out of control. It is caused by the body not having enough insulin, and is characterized by symptoms of dry mouth and a constant need to urinate.

Hypoglycemia: Occurs when blood glucose drops too low as a result of a diabetic's neglect to eat enough, or if he or she has injected too much insulin. It is characterized by several symptoms, including anxiety, weakness, hunger and headaches.

Ketoacidosis (acidosis):
A serious condition that occurs when ketones (acids) build up in the blood and can poison the body. This usually signifies that diabetes has spun out of control.

Retinopathy: This is an eye disease that occurs in the small blood vessels in the retina.

Posted: 9/16/19
EllenMSW

These terms are POORLY defined. Who wrote them?

For example, the exchange list is rarely used anymore - especially when it comes to type 1 diabetes. Glucagon is also used as an injection to counteract a severe hypolyglycemic reaction. Hyperglycemia is not diabetes spiraling out of control - it means blood glucose is higher than it should be and insulin/exercise/medication etc. may be needed to bring it down closer to target. Hypoglycemia is not the result of a person with diabetes who has "neglect[ed] to eat enough" - there is a need to stop blaming the patient for an imperfect science. Sometimes hypoglycemia occurs many hours after exercise and cannot always be predicted. Ketoacidosis can be the result of illness.

These definitions need to be revised ASAP - especially on a website that is trying to empower others.