"Loved your Frugal Living tips! They have helped me start off in a new direction!" -Catherine
Read More Testimonials»

Our Managing Diabetes Experts

Dr. Sheri Colberg-Ochs

Dr. Sheri Colberg-Ochs

Exercise physiologist, dLife.com contributor and author

Shared by First30Days View Profile»
Dr. Alan L. Rubin

Dr. Alan L. Rubin

Endocrinologist and author of Diabetes for Dummies

Shared by First30Days View Profile»
Dr. Nieca Goldberg

Dr. Nieca Goldberg

Physician and spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s...

Shared by First30Days View Profile»

Meet all of our Health Experts»

Got A Tip?


Brushing Up on Diabetes Lingo


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: 12/1/23

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.