Diabetes Lexicon

This lexicon of diabetic terms which is updated as I find or am suggested new terms

Current List of Terms

Blood Glucose

Carbohydate (Carb) Counting

Hemoglobin A1c/HbA1c/A1c/Glycosylated/Glucosylated Hemoglobin


Blood Glucose

What it is: It is a test that measures the amount of a type of sugar, called glucose, that is in your bloodstream.1

How it works: There are multiple ways to test it, such as a Fasting Blood Test, a HbA1c , or a home blood glucose monitor test. Home tests use a glucose meter (also known as a glucometer). The glucometer uses a small amount of blood from a finger prick (using a sterile lancet). Michael Strano, an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, explains in an Ask An Engineer article that "current glucometers use test strips containing glucose oxidase, an enzyme that reacts to glucose in the blood droplet, and an interface to an electrode inside the meter. When the strip is inserted into the meter, the flux of the glucose reaction generates an electrical signal. The glucometer is calibrated so the number appearing in its digital readout corresponds to the strength of the electrical current: The more glucose in the sample, the higher the number.”2

Average/target range: Based on the status and type of diabetes the recommended range from the Canadian Diabetic Association:

  A1C** Fasting blood glucose/ blood glucose before meals (mmol/L) Blood glucose two hours after eating (mmol/L)
Target for most people with diabetes 7.0% or less 4.0 to 7.0 5.0 to 10.0 (5.0 – 8.0 if A1C** targets not being met)

* This information is based on the Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada and is a guide.

** A1C is a measurement of your average blood glucose (sugar) control for the last two to three months and approximately 50 per cent of the value comes from the last 30 days.4

** A1C is a measurement of your average blood glucose (sugar) control for the last two to three months and approximately 50 per cent of the value comes from the last 30 days. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/blood-glucose-insulin/managing-your-blood-glucose#sthash.V3BEtDij.dpuf


Carbohydrate (Carb) Counting

What it is: A method for keeping track of the number of carbohydrates that you are consuming, since carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels.1

How it works: The Canadian Diabetic Association (CDA) uses a method that involves using "Carbohydrate Choices", where 1 choice is equivalent to 15g of carbs. Since fibre doesn't affect your blood glucose level, you take the number of carbohydrates (in grams) in a serving of food and subtract the amount of fibre (in grams) to end up at your number of carbohydrates that affect blood glucose levels.1  Using this example label, we would have 35g of Carbohydrates – 5g of Fibre = 30g. This equals 1 choice. Based in your goals that you set with your dietitician, and example snack could be 1 choice (15g) and a meal could be between 4 and 6 choices (60g to 90g). The CDA has a list of common foods and their carbohydrate content listed here.

Tips: An indespensible tool for counting carbs is a Nutrition Scale. I use Greater Goods Perfect Portions Nutrition Facts scale. You can buy it on Amazon.com here. or in Canada Bed Bath & Beyond had the lowest price at the time of writing.


Hemoglobin A1c/HbA1c/A1c/Glycosylated/Glucosylated Hemoglobin

What it is: It is a blood test that indicates that your average blood glucose levels over the past 8-12 weeks.1

How it works: This measures the component of the minor component of Hemoglobin called A1c. Glucose binds to the A1c. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body. Since Red blood cells live, on average, between 8 and 12 weeks the amount of glucose bound to the A1c indicates and average blood glucose over the last 8-12 weeks. Based on your HbA1c percentage, you can approximate it what your average blood glucose level has been.

For people using the international standard of mmol/L to measure blood glucose, you can view a chart by clicking here. For people (mostly USA) using the conventional measurement of mg/dl, you can view a chart by clicking here.

Average/target range: For people without diabetes, the average range is between 4% and 5.6%. Levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate a higher risk of diabetes, and levels greater than 6.4% indicates diabetes.4

Explanation of term: Hemoglobin (Hb) is the oxygen-carrying protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen through your body.  Approximately 90% of hemoglobin is hemoglobin A3, where the A stands for adult type. Hemoglobin A accounts for 92% of hemoglobin in the system. The other 8% is made up of A1c, A1b, A1a1, and A1a2. Glucose binds to Hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c.2


Works Cited:

Blood Glucose

1. WebMD Inc. "Blood Glucose." WebMD. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/blood-glucose.

2. MIT School of Engineering. "MIT School of Engineering." How Do Glucometers Work? October 18, 2011. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://engineering.mit.edu/ask/how-do-glucometers-work.

3. Diabetes Digital Media Ltd. "Blood Sugar Level Ranges." Normal and Diabetic. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes_care/blood-sugar-level-ranges.html.

4. Canadian Diabetes Association. "Managing Your Blood Glucose." Canadian Diabetes Association. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/blood-glucose-insulin/managing-your-blood-glucose.

Carbohydrate Counting

1. Canadian Diabetes Association. Basic Carbohydrate Counting For Diabetes Management. PDF. Canadian Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.ca/CDA/media/documents/clinical-practice-and-education/professional-resources/carbohydrate-counting-resource-english.pdf


1. Diabetes Digital Media Ltd. "Guide to HbA1c." What Is HbA1c? Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.diabetes.co.uk/what-is-hba1c.html

2. MedicineNet, Inc. "Hemoglobin A1c." MedicineNet. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=17048.

3. WebMD, Inc. "HbA1c Test (Hemoglobin A1c )." HbA1c, Hemoglobin A1c: Click for Range & Normal Levels. February 29, 2016. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/hemoglobin_a1c_hba1c/article_em.htm.

4. WebMD Inc. "Hemoglobin A1c Testing for Diabetes." WebMD. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/glycated-hemoglobin-test-hba1c.