Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD): The credential given to a dietitian who has registered with the Dietitians Association of Australia after graduating with appropriate tertiary qualifications in Nutrition and Dietetics. They must also meet practice standards and undertake ongoing professional education and development.

Blood Glucose Level (BGL): The amount of glucose measured in the blood stream (mmol/L). Often referred to as blood ‘sugar’.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD): Disease of the heart including blood vessels. High fat diet/ diabetes can increase the risk of this disease.

Diabetes educator: A person skilled in the management of diabetes. Previously most often nurses but now may be dietitians, pharmacists, podiatrists with an interest in diabetes who have undertaken further tertiary study to specialise in this area.

Diabetes mellitus: A disease characterised by high blood glucose levels. Occurs when insulin doesn’t move the right amount of glucose from the blood stream to the muscle cells. Several different types of diabetes mellitus exist (see below: gestational, type 1, type 2). Too much glucose in the blood in the long term can result in complications in many different areas of the body.

Diamicron: A drug used in the management of type 2 diabetes. Works by stimulating the pancreas to release insulin.

Dietitian: A person specialising in the science of nutrition. They are trained to give specialised nutrition assessment and advice/management for both health and disease.

Endocrinologist: A person who specialises in the management of the body’s hormone related disorders. Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): A type of diabetes that happens in pregnancy, ‘gestational’ meaning ‘in pregnancy’. The major reason for diabetes in pregnancy is because of the placental hormones causing ‘insulin resistance’. (See insulin resistance.)

Glucagon: A hormone that allows the breakdown of glucose from its storage form. Used as an emergency treatment in (mainly) type 1 diabetes for severe hypoglycaemia (when patient unconscious or unable to treat themselves). In these situations the Glucagon is injected.

Glucometer: A machine used to measure the amount of glucose in the blood stream via a fingerprick test. (Is also called a blood glucose machine.)

Glucose Challenge Test (GCT): Often given in pregnancy as a screening test. Involves a blood test at 1hr after drinking a 50g carbohydrate load (a very sweet liquid). If BGL >7.8mmol/L the patient is referred for a full Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT): A diagnostic test for pregnancy and type 2 diabetes. After consuming an adequate carbohydrate diet for 3 days, patients fast overnight and have blood tests done at time zero (fasting) and then (1)* and 2 hours after drinking a 75g carbohydrate load. (*1hr reading not always measured.)

Glycaemia: Another way of saying ‘blood glucose’.

HbA1c: A longer-term measure of glycaemic control. Should be measured every 4-6 weeks in pregnancy.

Hyperglycaemia: Means raised blood glucose levels. As there are no specific symptoms a person may not know they are experiencing hyperglycaemia as is the case with gestational diabetes. This is why it is recommended that women be routinely screened around week 28 in pregnancy.

Hypertension: High blood pressure.

Hypoglycaemia (hypo): A low blood glucose level (<4mmol/L). Symptoms may include feeling clammy, shaky, hungry or confused.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT): A state of ‘pre-diabetes’ where the glucose levels are abnormal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Some evidence shows this state may still impact on future diabetes complications and heart disease.

Insulin: A storage hormone made by the pancreas. One of its functions is to enable glucose to move from the blood stream to the muscle cells.

Insulin resistance: A term that describes when cells (i.e. muscle/liver) have difficulty responding to insulin so that it takes more insulin to move glucose out of the bloodstream.

Intra Uterine Growth Restriction (IUGR): Restricted growth of the foetus most likely due to insufficient placental function/development.

Ketones: A chemical substance produced in starvation or when not enough carbohydrate is consumed. This can be harmful for both mother and baby.

Metformin: A drug used commonly in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It helps sensitise the muscle and liver cells to insulin (so reduces insulin resistance) and also helps decrease the amount of glucose released by the liver so there is less in the bloodstream.

Pancreas: The organ responsible for insulin production and it’s located near your stomach.

Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas.

Pre-eclampsia: A life threatening pregnancy complication when a mother’s blood pressure is too high and her kidney’s become compromised. Placental function can also be affected which places the unborn baby at risk. Pre-eclampsia occurs in up to 10% of pregnancies and is more common in those who have diabetes when pregnant.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM): An autoimmune form of diabetes where the body’s own antibodies attack the insulin producing cells of the pancreas meaning they cannot make adequate insulin by themselves. People with T1DM require insulin several times a day to stay alive.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): Is a combination of insulin resistance and/or relative insulin insufficiency resulting in high blood glucose levels.