Jargon Buster

As with so many things, and especially online things, as soon as people start discussing a topic among themselves they begin to use shorthand and abbreviations and quickly forget that no one else has any idea what they are talking about.

There are a mix of healthcare and general terms or phrases listed in alphabetical order.

On this page we decipher some of the confusing terms or phrases that you might come across in the #doc (see we're at it already!). If you come across something you don't understand (especially if it's on this website) drop us a line on the contact page and we'll add it to this page.


See HbA1c.

Artificial Pancreas (AP) 

There are several Artificial Pancreas Projects (APP) across the world working towards an integrated, automated system of blood glucose management for people with type 1 diabetes. Typically the systems involve continuous glucose monitoring in combination with automated insulin delivery and adjustment using an insulin pump. Also known as a 'closed loop' insulin pump.

Basal Bolus

An insulin treatment method using two different types of insulin and usually consisting of at least 4 or 5 injections a day. Basal (or background) insulin is long-lasting and has a fairly flat, even activity profile designed to deal with the trickle of energy released by the liver throughout the day to fuel the body's background needs. Bolus (or mealtime) insulin is rapid-acting and is given before eating to allow the body to process the energy (carbohydrates) in food and snacks.


Blood glucose level measured by a putting a drop of blood onto a strip inserted in an electronic meter. Modern meters are calibrated for plasma glucose values rather than whole blood values, but most people still use 'blood glucose' or 'blood sugar' to describe it.

Carb counting

A way of calculating insulin doses based on the amount of carbohydrate in a meal or snack and a person's sensitivity to insulin and blood glucose level before eating.


Continuous Glucose Monitor or Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. A sensor with small filament worn under the skin which measures glucose in interstitial fluid (the fluid between the cells). A separate reading device receives a glucose measurement every few minutes for 24 hours a day and displays a blood glucose equivalent value. CGM receivers can alert wearers if their glucose value is falling too low or too high. Some CGMs can be paired with an insulin pump which displays the glucose value and remove the need for a separate reader.

Closed Loop

See artificial pancreas.


Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion. See Insulin Pump.


Child (or children) with diabetes.

DOC or #doc

The Diabetes Online Commmunity


Diabetic Ketoacidosis. A very dangerous condition resulting from high blood glucose levels where acidic ketones build up in the bloodstream and risk damaging internal organs. Signs of DKA are nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fruity breath odor, and rapid breathing. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and death - emergency treatment is urgently required if DKA is suspected.


Diabetes Specialist Nurse


Diagnosis or diagnosed, eg "How long since your Dx?".


Fasting blood glucose. A BG measurement not affected by food intake. Usually refers to the first blood glucose meassurement of the day, taken soon after waking and before eating breakfast.

Flash Glucose Monitor / Abbott Freestyle Libre

A relatively new product category and currently only one device available. Flash Glucose Monitors combine some characteristics of CGM and some of conventional BG monitoring. A sensor continually reads glucose values from interstitial fluid (the fluid between cells under the skin) and converts them to reflect blood glucose values. The sensor holds up to 8 hour's of data which can be ready by 'swiping' the sensor with a reader or smartphone app. The reader can give trend information, arrows to show the direction of change in BG values, but flash glucose readings are not transmitted automatically so cannot give alerts if levels rise too high or too low.


A word (or phrase with no spaces) preceded by the hash sign eg #doc #diabetes #bgnow. Hashtags are used to collect streams of content or for searches in several social media channels, particularly Twitter. Hashtags are also important in participating in tweetchats.


A blood test carried out at clinic which shows how much glucose has been in the bloodstream during the last 3 months. Glucose sticks to red blood cells, so the more sugar travelling around in your blood, the more sticks to the red blood cells. Red blood cells live for approximately 120 days, so the amount of glucose stuck to red blood cells gives an ‘average’ of your blood glucose levels over the last 3 months.


Healthcare Professional - a general term for any doctor, nurse, podiatrist, consultant, registrar or similar that you might see about your diabetes.


Hyperglycaemia - high blood glucose. People with diabetes are generally advised to aim for blood glucose no higher than 9mmol/L by 2 hours after a meal. Everyone, whether living with diabetes or not, will have fluctuations in blood glucose levels throughout the day. But in the case of type 1 diabetes, those fluctuations are likely to be greater. Symptoms of high blood glucose can include tiredness or lethargy, headache, increased thirst, blurred vision, increased need to unirate. Sustained exposure to high blood glucose is associated with diabetic complications such as blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. In severe cases high blood glucose in type 1 diabetes can lead to a dangerous condition known as DKA.


Short for hypoglycaemia - low blood glucose. People with type 1 diabetes are generally advised to keep blood glucose above 4.0mmol/L to avoid hypoglycaemia. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia include hunger, anxiety, pale skin, sweating, shakiness, tiredness, blurred vision or flashing lights, lack of concentration, mood swings. In more severe cases hypoglycaemia can lead to siezure, unconsciousness, coma and death.

Infusion set (or simply 'set')

The part of an insulin pump that delivers insulin into the body. A small tube or 'cannula', made of Teflon coated plastic or steel, is inserted under the skin. Infusion sites are rotated every 2 or 3 days. Depending on the type of pump the infusion set is connected to the pump via a length of tubing or connected directly to a 'patch pump'. Infusion set/set and infusion site/site are all used to describe the same thing.

Insulin pump

A small device, about the size of a pager, that delivers insulin through a tube inserted under the skin. A pump only uses rapid-acting insulin and delivers a continual trickle of 'basal' (background) insulin 24 hours a day. Insulin pumps offer more precise doses down to tiny fractions of a unit and usually offer help in calculating 'bolus' doses for meals or snacks, based on carbohydrate information you supply.


Insulin on board. An estimate of how much previously given insulin is still circulating and active.


Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults. A less common variant of type 1 diabetes which often has a slower onset and develops later in life. Sometimes called type 1.5.


Multiple Daily Injections, another term for 'basal/bolus' insulin treatment.


Maturity onset diabetes of the young - a rare form of diabetes caused by an abnormality in a single gene.

Open Source

Software or technology that is made freely available by its authors under a license that requires it can be shared, used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed without charge.


Person (or people) with diabetes.


A shortened version of Social Media

T1 or T1DM

Type 1 diabetes (officially called type 1 diabetes mellitus).


Your Diabetes May Vary. What works well for one person will not necessarily work the same for someone else.