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Diabetes Jargon Buster


Diabetes is complicated enough, so we have put together a simple jargon buster to help you get to grips with some of the common diabetes terms.

Basal bolus insulin

This describes a routine of taking insulin, where your child has insulin injections four (or more) times a day. 

Basal insulin

The long lasting insulin your child takes once or twice a day, which acts over most of the day. also called 'background insulin.'

Blood glucose meter

A device that reads your child's blood testing strips and store the results of their blood glucose tests. 

Blood sugar levels 

A measure of how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. (also called blood glucose levels). 

Blood sugar targets

The blood sugar levels your child should aim for (measured in millimoles), which you'll be told by your paediatric diabetes team.

Bolus insulin

The rapid-acting insulin your child takes to cover the rise in their blood sugar leavels when they eat or drink or when their sugar level is high.

Carbohydrate (carb) counting

A very effective way of managing diabetes by individually matching your child's insulin to what they choose to eat. 

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)

Where a sensor is worn just under the skin that measures blood sugar levels every few minutes. 

Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion (CSII)

Another name of insulin pump therapy. 

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

Where a build-up of ketones (poisonous chemicals) causes the body to become acidic: if not treated it can cause unconsciousness- and even death. 


A doctor who specialises in diabetes and is usually based in a hospital clinic or specialist diabetes clinic.


An expert in food and nutrition who'll give you information about all aspects of your child's food and drink intake.

Flash glucose monitoring

A small sensor that you wear just under your skin that stores your  blood sugar levels continuously. You can access them by scanning the sensor whenever you want to.


For treating a severe hypo, a kit that includes a syringe of sterile water and a vial of glucagon powder.


The sugar in the blood, which the body uses for energy: the essential fuel for the body. 

HbA1c test

A blood test that measures blood sugar levels over two or three months. 

Hyperglycaemia (hyper)

When blood sugar levels are too high. 

Hypoglycaemia (hypo)

When blood sugar levels drop too low (below 4mmol/l)


The hormone that keeps the levels of glucose in the blood under control. 

Insulin pen

An easy-to-use injection device. 

Insulin pump

An alternative to injecting insulin, a pump delivers rapid acting insulin around the clock through a cannula (a very thin plastic or metal tube) inserted just under the skin.


Poisonous chemicals that can develop if there isn't enough insulin in the body to allow enough glucose to enter the cells: can leas to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). 


A finger-pricking needle used for getting adrop of blood to test blood sugar levels. 

Millimoles per litre (mmol/l)

A measurement that expresses the amount of glucose in the blood.

Multiple daily injections (MDI)

Describes a routine of taking insulin, where your child has insulin injections four (or more) times a day. 


Paediatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with children, so paediatric doctors and nurses are specialists in treating and looking after children. 

Paediatric Diabetes Specialist Nurse (PDSN)

A nurse with a special expertise in diabetes and in working with children, who's usually your first point of contact and who will provide advice and support between appointments. 


A children's doctor with specialist expertise in diabetes who'll take overall responsibility for your child's diabetes care. 

Quick-acting carbohydrate

Carbohydrate that acts quickly to raise blood sugar levels, e.g. glucose tablets, jelly babies and non-diet drinks. 

Rapid-acting insulin

The bolus insulin your child takes to cover the rise in their blood glucose levels when they eat or drink, or when their blood sugar levels are high.

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