Diabetes Glossary G

Diabetes has a great number of terms that are specific to diabetes or diabetic-like conditions. This glossary is meant as a guide to identify terminology often used extensively and liberally in the medical community.

Terms Listed Aphabetically
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



A type of sugar found in milk products and sugar beets. It is also made by the body. It is considered a nutritive sweetener because it has calories.


The death of body tissue. It is most often caused by a loss of blood flow, especially in the legs and feet.


A form of nerve damage that affects the stomach. Food is not digested properly and does not move through the stomach in a normal way, resulting in vomiting, nausea, or bloating and interfering with diabetes management. See also: Autonomic neuropathy.


A basic unit of heredity. Genes are made of DNA, a substance that tells cells what to do and when to do it. The information in the genes is passed from parent to child-for example, a gene might tell some cells to make the hair red or the eyes brown.


Relating to genes. See also: Gene; heredity.


The length of pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)

A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of the pregnancy, the woman may have glucose (sugar) in the blood at a higher than normal level. However, when the pregnancy ends, the blood glucose levels return to normal in about 95 percent of all cases.


An inflammation of the gums that if left untreated may lead to periodontal disease, a serious gum disorder. Signs of gingivitis are inflamed and bleeding gums. See also: Periodontal disease.


A group of special cells that make substances so that other parts of the body can work. For example, the pancreas is a gland that releases insulin so that other body cells can use glucose (sugar) for energy. See also: Endocrine glands.


An eye disease associated with increased pressure within the eye. Glaucoma can damage the optic nerve and cause impaired vision and blindness.

Glomerular Filtration Rate

Measure of the kidneys’ ability to filter and remove waste products.


Network of tiny blood vessels in the kidneys where the blood is filtered and waste products are removed.


A hormone that raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The alpha cells of the pancreas (in areas called the islets of Langerhans) make glucagon when the body needs to put more sugar into the blood.

An injectable form of glucagon, which can be bought in a drug store, is sometimes used to treat insulin shock. The glucagon is injected and quickly raises blood glucose levels. See also: Alpha cell.


A simple sugar found in the blood. It is the body’s main source of energy; also known as dextrose. See also: Blood glucose.

Glucose Tolerance Test

A test to see if a person has diabetes. The test is given in a lab or doctor’s office in the morning before the person has eaten. A first sample of blood is taken from the person. Then the person drinks a liquid that has glucose (sugar) in it. After one hour, a second blood sample is drawn, and, after another hour, a third sample is taken. The object is to see how well the body deals with the glucose in the blood over time.

Glycemic Response

The effect of different foods on blood glucose (sugar) levels over a period of time. Researchers have discovered that some kinds of foods may raise blood glucose levels more quickly than other foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates.


A substance made up of sugars. It is stored in the liver and muscles and releases glucose (sugar) into the blood when needed by cells. Glycogen is the chief source of stored fuel in the body.

Glycogenesis (or glucogenesis)

The process by which glycogen is formed from glucose. See also: Glycogen.


Having glucose (sugar) in the urine.

Glycosylated Hemoglobin Test

A blood test that measures a person’s average blood glucose (sugar) level for the 2- to 3-month period before the test. See: Hemoglobin A1C.


A unit of weight in the metric system. There are 28 grams in 1 ounce. In some diet plans for people with diabetes, the suggested amounts of food are given in grams.