Diabetes Dictionary: B


Background Retinopathy
Early stage of diabetic retinopathy; usually does not impair vision. Also called "nonproliferative retinopathy."

Basal/Bolus Insulin Administration (Poor Man's Pump)
Using several daily injections of fast-acting insulin (e.g., NovoLog, Humalog, or Regular), at mealtimes -- the bolus doses -- together with one or more daily injections of long acting insulin (e.g., Lantus, UltraLente, or NPH) -- the basal doses -- to achieve blood sugar control in a manner similar to that used by people who use insulin pumps.

Basal Rate
Refers to a continuous supply of low levels of insulin, as in insulin pump therapy.

Beta Cell
A type of cell in the pancreas in areas called the Islets of Langerhans. Beta cells make and release insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

See also: alpha cell and delta cell.

Beta Cell Transplantation
See: Islet cell transplantation.

Biosynthetic Human Insulin
A man-made insulin that is very much like human insulin.

Biphasic Insulin
A type of insulin that is a mixture of intermediate- and fast-acting insulin.

Blood Glucose
The main sugar that the body makes from the three elements of food-proteins, fats, and carbohydrates-but mostly from carbohydrates. Glucose is the major source of energy for living cells and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. However, the cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.

Blood Glucose Meter/Blood Glucose Monitoring
A way of testing how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. A drop of blood, usually taken from the fingertip, is placed on the end of a specially coated strip, called a testing strip. The strip has a chemical on it that makes it change color according to how much glucose is in the blood. A person can tell if the level of glucose is low, high, or normal in one of two ways. The first is by comparing the color on the end of the strip to a color chart that is printed on the side of the test strip container. The second is by inserting the strip into a small machine, called a meter, which "reads" the strip and shows the level of blood glucose in a digital window display. Some meters have a memory that can store results from multiple tests.

Blood testing is more accurate than urine testing in monitoring blood glucose levels because it shows what the current level of glucose is, rather than what the level was an hour or so previously.

See Blood Glucose Meters for a discussion and review of several meters currently available.

Blood Pressure
The force of the blood on the walls of arteries. Two levels of blood pressure are measured-the higher, or systolic, pressure, which occurs each time the heart pushes blood into the vessels, and the lower, or diastolic, pressure, which occurs when the heart rests. In a blood pressure reading of 120/80, for example, 120 is the systolic pressure and 80 is the diastolic pressure. A reading of 120/80 is said to be the normal range. Blood pressure that is too high can cause health problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

Blood-Sampling Devices
A small instrument for pricking the skin with a fine needle to obtain a sample of blood to test for glucose (sugar).

See also: Blood glucose monitoring.

See Lancets and Lancing Devices for a discussion and review of several blood-sampling devices currently available.

Blood Sugar
See: Blood glucose

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
A waste product of the kidneys. Increased levels of BUN in the blood may indicate early kidney damage.

Blood Vessels
Tubes that act like a system of roads or canals to carry blood to and from all parts of the body. The three main types of blood vessels are arteries, veins, and capillaries. The heart pumps blood through these vessels so that the blood can carry with it oxygen and nutrients that the cells need or take away waste that the cells do not need.

Body Mass Index (BMI)
A measure to gauge total body fat which takes into account a person's weight and height. For adults, a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. For children, proper determination of BMI depends on additional factors. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of developing additional health problems.

See also: Percentiles for body mass index in U.S. children 5 to 17 years of age.

An extra boost of insulin given to cover expected rise in blood glucose (sugar) such as the rise that occurs after eating.

Borderline Diabetes
A term no longer used. See: Impaired glucose tolerance.

Brittle Diabetes
Diabetes that is very difficult to control. It is an antiquated term that has no place in current management of diabetes. In particular it is not a distinct form of diabetes, and usually will respond to a more intensive team approach to care.

Bronze Diabetes
See hemochromatosis.

A bump or bulge on the first joint of the big toe caused by the swelling of a sac of fluid under the skin. Shoes that fit well can keep bunions from forming. Bunions can lead to other problems such as serious infections.

See also: Foot care.


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Last Updated: Sun Aug 17 12:14:46 2008
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