Diabetes Dictionary: C


C.D.E. (Certified Diabetes Educator)
A health professional who is certified by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators to teach people with diabetes how to manage their condition. The criteria to obtain this certification include:

  1. a degree in the health professions such as R.N. (nursing), M.D. or D.O. (physicians), R.D. (dietitians), R.Ph. or Pharm.D. (pharmacists), M.S.W. (social workers), and others.
  2. at least two years' experience in diabetes education.
  3. successful completion of a comprehensive examination covering the field.

Certified Diabetes Educators must be recredentialed every 5 years.

Visit the American Association of Diabetes Educators website to learn more about diabetes education. You may also visit the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators website to learn more about the Certification process.

A substance that the pancreas releases into the bloodstream in equal amounts to insulin. A test of C-peptide levels will show how much insulin the body is making. See also Proinsulin.

Calcium Channel Blocker
A drug used to lower blood pressure.

A small area of skin, usually on the foot, that has become thick and hard from rubbing or pressure. Calluses may lead to other problems such as serious infection. Shoes that fit well can keep calluses from forming.

See also: Foot care.

Energy that comes from food. Some foods have more calories than others. Fats have many calories. Most vegetables have few. People with diabetes are advised to follow meal plans with suggested amounts of calories for each meal and/or snack.

See also: Meal plan; exchange lists.

The smallest of the body's blood vessels. Capillaries have walls so thin that oxygen and glucose can pass through them and enter the cells, and waste products such as carbon dioxide can pass back into the blood to be carried away and taken out of the body. Sometimes people who have had diabetes for a long time find that their capillaries become weak, especially those in the kidney and the retina of the eye.

See also: Blood vessels.

Capsaicin, derived from hot peppers, is the active ingredient in the creams used to relieve the pain of peripheral neuropathy.

One of the three main classes of foods and a source of energy. Carbohydrates are mainly sugars and starches that the body breaks down into glucose (a simple sugar that the body can use to feed its cells). The body also uses carbohydrates to make a substance called glycogen that is stored in the liver and muscles for future use. If the body does not have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it has, which are the basic problems in most forms of diabetes, then the body will not be able to use carbohydrates for energy the way it should.

Sometimes abbreviated CHO.

See also: Fats; protein.

A doctor who sees and takes care of people with heart disease; a heart specialist.

Relating to the heart and blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries); the circulatory system.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A nerve disorder affecting the hand that may occur in people with diabetes; caused by a pinched nerve.

Clouding of the lens of the eye. In people with diabetes, this condition is sometimes referred to as "sugar cataract."

A hollow flexible tube used to infuse or drain fluids into or from the body. Example: A catheter is used to transfer insulin from an insulin pump to a needle that is placed in the skin of the person using an insulin pump.

Celiac disease (also spelled coeliac)
An autoimmune disorder of the upper intestinal mucosa that is triggered by cereal proteins, especially wheat gluten, and which leads to a malabsorption of all nutrients, primarily of fat. It can be detected by the presence of anti-transglutaminase antibodies. If these are positive it would be justifiable to take a mucosal biopsy and if this is positive, then dietary treatment is all that is required.

About 5% of people with autoimmune diabetes have positive anti-transglutaminase antibodies. Celiac syndrome may also be part of the Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome. See Celiac Disease.

Cerebrovascular Disease
Damage to the blood vessels in the brain, resulting in a stroke. The blood vessels become blocked because of fat deposits or they become thick and hard, blocking the flow of blood to the brain. Sometimes, the blood vessels may burst, resulting in a hemorrhagic stroke. People with diabetes are at higher risk of cerebrovascular disease.

See also: Macrovascular disease; stroke.

Charcot Foot
A foot complication associated with diabetic neuropathy that results in almost painless destruction of joints and soft tissue. Also called "Charcot's joint" and "neuropathic arthropathy."

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

A pill taken to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Only some people with noninsulin-dependent diabetes take these pills.

See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents

A fat-like substance found in blood, muscle, liver, brain, and other tissues in people and animals. The body makes and needs some cholesterol. Too much cholesterol, however, may cause fat to build up in the walls of the larger arteries and cause a disease called atherosclerosis. Butter and egg yolks are examples of foods that have a lot of cholesterol.

Cholesterol is composed of several components:

  1. HDL-Cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol): This component of cholesterol seems to have protective effects, and higher levels are considered to be good to have.
  2. LDL-Cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol)
  3. VLDL-Cholesterol (very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol)

Cholesterol is a lipid.

Present over a long period of time. Diabetes is an example of chronic disease.

The flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels of the body.

Clinical Trial
A scientifically controlled study carried out in people, usually to test the effectiveness of a new treatment.

A sleep-like state; not conscious. May be due to a high or low level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

See also: Diabetic coma.

In a coma; not conscious.

Complications of Diabetes
Harmful effects that may happen when a person has diabetes. Some effects, such as hypoglycemia, can happen any time. Others develop when a person has had diabetes for a long time. These include damage to the retina of the eye (retinopathy), the blood vessels (angiopathy), the nervous system (neuropathy), and the kidneys (nephropathy). Studies show that keeping blood glucose levels as close to the normal, nondiabetic range as possible may help prevent, slow, or delay harmful effects to the eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

For information about how important good control is in reducing the risk of complications, see The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT).

Congenital Defects
Problems or conditions that are present at birth.

Congestive Heart Failure
Heart failure caused by loss of pumping power by the heart, resulting in fluids collecting in the body. Congestive heart failure often develops gradually over several years, although it also can happen suddenly. It can be treated by drugs and in some cases, by surgery.

A condition that makes a treatment not helpful or even harmful.

Controlled Disease
Taking care of oneself so that a disease has less of an effect on the body. People with diabetes can "control" the disease by staying on their diets, by exercising, by taking medicine if it is needed, and by monitoring their blood glucose. This care will help keep the glucose (sugar) level in the blood from becoming either too high or too low.

Conventional Therapy
A system of diabetes management practiced by most people with diabetes; the system consists of one or two insulin injections each day, daily self-monitoring of blood glucose, and a standard program of nutrition and exercise. The main objective in this form of treatment is to avoid very high and very low blood glucose (sugar). Also called: "Standard Therapy."

The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial has shown that intensive therapy, rather than conventional therapy, can reduce the risk of complications.

Coronary Disease
Damage to the heart. Not enough blood flows through the vessels because they are blocked with fat or have become thick and hard; this harms the muscles of the heart. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of coronary disease.

One of several hormones made in the adrenal glands. The primary responsibility of cortisol is to activate the immune system; it also is involved with the metabolism of glucose, and can cause elevation of the blood sugar level.

Cortisol is in the class of hormones called corticosteroids (or steroids). It, and synthetic versions such as prednisone, are available as prescription medications for treating severe illnesses including asthma and arthritis; they are sometimes also used for severe cases of minor illnesses like poison ivy rashes.

See also Your doctor advises using steroids at the Diabetes Monitor.

An attempt by the body to correct a perceived abnormality. The correction may be in the form of an endocrine, neuronal, or other mechanism. In diabetes, this is a term that is usually used to describe the body's normal response through other hormones, epinephrine and glucocorticoids (which are called "counterregulatory hormones") to correct blood sugars that are too low.

Coxsackie B4 Virus
An agent that has been shown to damage the beta cells of the pancreas in lab tests. This virus may be one cause of insulin-dependent diabetes.

Be sure to read Common Class of Viruses Implicated as Cause of Type 1 Diabetes.

An end-product of protein metabolism found in the blood and urine, that can be used to help assess if the kidneys are working adequately. A related test, using simultaneous measurements of a timed urine sample plus a blood creatinine test, is called the creatinine clearance.

CSII: Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion
See: Insulin pump.

A man-made chemical that people used instead of sugar. The Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of cyclamates in 1973 because lab tests showed that large amounts of cyclamates can cause bladder cancer in rats.

Cystic Fibrosis
An inherited disorder occurring in children and young adults, with chronic pulmonary disease (due to production of sticky mucus in the respiratory tract), pancreatic deficiency (leading to diabetes), abnormally high levels of electrolytes in the sweat, and other disorders.


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Last Updated: Sun Aug 24 08:44:55 2008
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