a small area of skin, usually on the foot, that has become thick and hard from rubbing or pressure.



a unit representing the energy provided by food. Carbohydrate, protein, fat, and alcohol provide calories in the diet. Carbohydrate and protein have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram, and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.


capillary (KAP-ih-lair-ee):

the smallest of the body’s blood vessels. Oxygen and glucose pass through capillary walls and enter the cells. Waste products such as carbon dioxide pass back from the cells into the blood through capillaries.


capsaicin (kap-SAY-ih-sin):

an ingredient in hot peppers that can be found in ointment form for use on the skin to relieve pain from diabetic neuropathy.


carbohydrate (kar-boh-HY-drate):

one of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide carbohydrate are starches, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and sugars.


Sources of carbohydrate.
Sources of carbohydrate

carbohydrate counting:

a method of meal planning for people with diabetes based on counting the number of grams of carbohydrate in food.


cardiologist (kar-dee-AH-luh-jist):

a doctor who treats people who have heart problems.


cardiovascular (KAR-dee-oh-VASK-yoo-ler) disease:

disease of the heart and blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries).


cataract (KA-ter-act):

clouding of the lens of the eye.


CDE: see certified diabetes educator.


cerebrovascular (seh-REE-broh-VASK-yoo-ler) disease:

damage to blood vessels in the brain. Vessels can burst and bleed or become clogged with fatty deposits. When blood flow is interrupted, brain cells die or are damaged, resulting in a stroke.


certified diabetes educator (CDE):

a health care professional with expertise in diabetes education who has met eligibility requirements and successfully completed a certification exam.
See diabetes educator.


Charcot’s (shar-KOHZ) foot:

a condition in which the joints and soft tissue in the foot are destroyed; it results from damage to the nerves.


cheiroarthropathy (KY-roh-ar-THRAHP-uh-thee):

see limited joint mobility.


cheiropathy (ky-RAH-puh-thee): see limited joint mobility.


chlorpropamide (klor-PROH-pah-mide):

an oral medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose levels by helping the pancreas make more insulin and by helping the body better use the insulin it makes. Belongs to the class of medicines called sulfonylureas. (Brand name: Diabinese.)


cholesterol (koh-LES-ter-all):

a type of fat produced by the liver and found in the blood; it is also found in some foods. Cholesterol is used by the body to make hormones and build cell walls.



describes something that is long-lasting. Opposite of acute.



the flow of blood through the body’s blood vessels and heart.



a sleep-like state in which a person is not conscious. May be caused by hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) or hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) in people with diabetes.


combination oral medicines:

a pill that includes two or more different medicines. See Glucovance.


combination therapy:

the use of different medicines together (oral hypoglycemic agents or an oral hypoglycemic agent and insulin) to manage the blood glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes.



harmful effects of diabetes such as damage to the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nervous system, teeth and gums, feet and skin, or kidneys. Studies show that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels close to normal can help prevent or delay these problems.


congenital (kun-JEN-ih-tul) defects: problems or conditions that are present at birth.


congestive heart failure:

loss of the heart’s pumping power, which causes fluids to collect in the body, especially in the feet and lungs.


conventional therapy:

a term used in clinical trials where one group receives treatment for diabetes in which A1C and blood glucose levels are kept at levels based on current practice guidelines. However, the goal is not to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible, as is done in intensive therapy. Conventional therapy includes use of medication, meal planning, and exercise, along with regular visits to health care providers.


coronary artery disease: see coronary heart disease.


coronary (KOR-uh-ner-ee) heart disease:

heart disease caused by narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. If the blood supply is cut off the result is a heart attack.


C-peptide (see-peptide):

“Connecting peptide,” a substance the pancreas releases into the bloodstream in equal amounts to insulin. A test of C-peptide levels shows how much insulin the body is making.


creatinine (kree-AT-ih-nin):

a waste product from protein in the diet and from the muscles of the body. Creatinine is removed from the body by the kidneys; as kidney disease progresses, the level of creatinine in the blood increases.





dawn phenomenon (feh-NAH-meh-nun):

the early-morning (4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) rise in blood glucose level.



see Diabetes Control and Complications Trial.


dehydration (dee-hy-DRAY-shun):

the loss of too much body fluid through frequent urinating, sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting.


dermopathy (dur-MAH-puh-thee):

disease of the skin.


desensitization (dee-sens-ih-tiz-A-shun):

a way to reduce or stop a response such as an allergic reaction to something. For example, if someone has an allergic reaction to something, the doctor gives the person a very small amount of the substance at first to increase one’s tolerance. Over a period of time, larger doses are given until the person is taking the full dose. This is one way to help the body get used to the full dose and to prevent the allergic reaction.


dextrose (DECKS-trohss), also called glucose:

simple sugar found in blood that serves as the body’s main source of energy.



see glyburide.



see diabetes mellitus.


Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT):

a study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, conducted from 1983 to 1993 in people with type 1 diabetes. The study showed that intensive therapy compared to conventional therapy significantly helped prevent or delay diabetes complications. Intensive therapy included multiple daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump with multiple blood glucose readings each day. Complications followed in the study included diabetic retinopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy.


diabetes educator:

a health care professional who teaches people who have diabetes how to manage their diabetes. Some diabetes educators are certified diabetes educators (CDEs). Diabetes educators are found in hospitals, physician offices, managed care organizations, home health care, and other settings.


diabetes insipidus (in-SIP-ih-dus):

a condition characterized by frequent and heavy urination, excessive thirst, and an overall feeling of weakness. This condition may be caused by a defect in the pituitary gland or in the kidney. In diabetes insipidus, blood glucose levels are normal.


diabetes mellitus (MELL-ih-tus):

a condition characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from the body’s inability to use blood glucose for energy. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin and therefore blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly.


Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP):

a study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases conducted from 1998 to 2001 in people at high risk for type 2 diabetes. All study participants had impaired glucose tolerance, also called pre-diabetes, and were overweight. The study showed that people who lost 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through a low-fat, low-calorie diet and moderate exercise (usually walking for 30 minutes 5 days a week) reduced their risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Participants who received treatment with the oral diabetes drug metformin reduced their risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 31 percent.


diabetic diarrhea (dy-uh-REE-uh):

loose stools, fecal incontinence, or both that result from an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine and diabetic neuropathy in the intestines. This nerve damage can also result in constipation.


diabetic eye disease:

see diabetic retinopathy.


diabetic ketoacidosis (KEY-toe-ass-ih-DOH-sis) (DKA):

an emergency condition in which extremely high blood glucose levels, along with a severe lack of insulin, result in the breakdown of body fat for energy and an accumulation of ketones in the blood and urine. Signs of DKA are nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fruity breath odor, and rapid breathing. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and death.


diabetic myelopathy (my-eh-LAH-puh-thee):

damage to the spinal cord found in some people with diabetes.


diabetic nephropathy: see nephropathy.


diabetic neuropathy:

see neuropathy.


diabetic retinopathy (REH-tih-NOP-uh-thee):

diabetic eye disease; damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. Loss of vision may result.


diabetogenic (DY-uh-beh-toh-JEN-ic):

causing diabetes. For example, some drugs cause blood glucose levels to rise, resulting in diabetes.


diabetologist (DY-uh-beh-TAH-luh-jist):

a doctor who specializes in treating people who have diabetes.



see chlorpropamide.


diagnosis (DY-ug-NO-sis):

the determination of a disease from its signs and symptoms.


dialysis (dy-AL-ih-sis):

the process of cleaning wastes from the blood artificially. This job is normally done by the kidneys. If the kidneys fail, the blood must be cleaned artificially with special equipment. The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

  • hemodialysis (HE-mo-dy-AL-ih-sis): the use of a machine to clean wastes from the blood after the kidneys have failed. The blood travels through tubes to a dialyzer (DY-uh-LY-zur), a machine that removes wastes and extra fluid. The cleaned blood then goes back into the body.


  • peritoneal (PEH-rih-tuh-NEE-ul) dialysis: cleaning the blood by using the lining of the abdomen as a filter. A cleansing solution called dialysate (dy-AL-ih-sate) is infused from a bag into the abdomen. Fluids and wastes flow through the lining of the belly and remain “trapped” in the dialysate. The dialysate is then drained from the belly, removing the extra fluids and wastes from the body.


dietitian (DY-eh-TIH-shun):

a health care professional who advises people about meal planning, weight control, and diabetes management. A registered dietitian (RD) has more training.


dilated (DY-lay-ted) eye exam:

a test done by an eye care specialist in which the pupil (the black center) of the eye is temporarily enlarged with eyedrops to allow the specialist to see the inside of the eye more easily.


Dilated eye
Dilated eye

Undilated eye
Undilated eye


see diabetic ketoacidosis.


D-phenylalanine (dee-fen-nel-AL-ah-neen) derivative:

a class of oral medicine for type 2 diabetes that lowers blood glucose levels by helping the pancreas make more insulin right after meals. (Generic name: nateglinide.)



see Diabetes Prevention Program.


Dupuytren’s (doo-PWEE-trenz) contracture (kon-TRACK-chur):

a condition associated with diabetes in which the fingers and the palm of the hand thicken and shorten, causing the fingers to curve inward.



see acetohexamide.