Diabetes Glossary N

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


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

One of the 17 institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Public Health Service.

Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum

A skin condition usually on the lower part of the legs. The lesions can be small or extend over a large area. They are usually raised, yellow, and waxy in appearance and often have a purple border. Young women are most often affected. This condition occurs in people with diabetes, or it may be a sign of diabetes. It also occurs in people who do not have diabetes.


The term used when new, tiny blood vessels grow in a new place, for example, out from the retina. See also: Diabetic retinopathy.


A doctor who sees and treats people with kidney diseases.


Disease of the kidneys caused by damage to the small blood vessels or to the units in the kidneys that clean the blood. People who have had diabetes for a long time may have kidney damage.

Nerve Conduction Studies

Tests to determine nerve function; can detect early neuropathy.


A doctor who sees and treats people with problems of the nervous system.


Disease of the nervous system. Many people who have had diabetes for a while have nerve damage. The three major forms of nerve damage are: peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and mononeuropathy. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which mainly affects the feet and legs. See also: Peripheral neuropathy; autonomic neuropathy; mononeuropathy.


See: Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Noninsulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM)

The most common form of diabetes mellitus; about 90 to 95 percent of people who have diabetes have NIDDM. Unlike the insulin-dependent type of diabetes, in which the pancreas makes no insulin, people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes produce some insulin, sometimes even large amounts. However, either their bodies do not produce enough insulin or their body cells are resistant to the action of insulin (see Insulin Resistance). People with NIDDM can often control their condition by losing weight through diet and exercise. If not, they may need to combine insulin or a pill with diet and exercise. Generally, NIDDM occurs in people who are over age 40. Most of the people who have this type of diabetes are overweight. Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus used to be called “adult-onset diabetes,” “maturity-onset diabetes,” “ketosis-resistant diabetes,” and “stable diabetes.” It is also called type II diabetes mellitus.

Noninvasive Blood Glucose Monitoring

A way to measure blood glucose without having to prick the finger to obtain a blood sample. Several noninvasive devices are currently being developed.

Nonketotic Coma

A type of coma caused by a lack of insulin. A nonketotic crisis means: (1) very high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood; (2) absence of ketoacidosis; (3) great loss of body fluid; and (4) a sleepy, confused, or comatose state. Nonketotic coma often results from some other problem such as a severe infection or kidney failure.

NPH Insulin

A type of insulin that is intermediate-acting.


The process by which the body draws nutrients from food and uses them to make or mend its cells.


See: Dietitian.