Diabetes Dictionary: P


An organ behind the lower part of the stomach that is about the size of a hand. It has two major responsibilities: part (the endocrine pancreas) makes insulin so that the body can use glucose (sugar) for energy. Another part (the exocrine pancreas) makes enzymes that help the body digest food.

Spread all over the pancreas are areas called the Islets of Langerhans. The cells in these areas each have a special purpose. The alpha cells make glucagon, which raises the level of glucose in the blood; the beta cells make insulin; the delta cells make somatostatin. There are also the PP cells and the D1 cells, about which little is known.

Pancreas Transplant
A surgical procedure that involves replacing the pancreas of a person who has diabetes with a healthy pancreas that can make insulin. The healthy pancreas comes from a donor who has just died or from a living relative. A person can donate half a pancreas and still live normally.

At present, pancreas transplants are usually performed in persons with Type 1 diabetes who have severe complications. This is because after the transplant the patient must take immunosuppressive drugs that are highly toxic and may cause damage to the body.

A procedure in which a surgeon takes out the pancreas.

Inflammation (pain, tenderness) of the pancreas; it can make the pancreas stop working. It is caused by drinking too much alcohol, by disease in the gallbladder, or by a virus.

Peak Action
The time period when the effect of something is as strong as it can be such as when insulin in having the most effect on lowering the glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Pediatric Endocrinologist
A doctor who sees and treats children with problems of the endocrine glands; diabetes is an endocrine disorder.

See also: Endocrine glands.

Two or more amino acids linked together chemically. If the number of amino acids is relatively great, the string is sometimes called a polypeptide; a very long string of amino acids is called a protein.

Periodontal Disease
Damage to the gums. People who have diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people who do not have diabetes.

A specialist in the treatment of diseases of the gums.

Peripheral Neuropathy
Nerve damage, usually affecting the feet and legs; causing pain, numbness, or a tingling feeling. Also called "somatic neuropathy" or "distal sensory polyneuropathy."

See also: Neuropathy

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
Disease in the large blood vessels of the arms, legs, and feet. People who have had diabetes for a long time may get this because major blood vessels in their arms, legs, and feet are blocked and these limbs do not receive enough blood. The signs of PVD are aching pains in the arms, legs, and feet (especially when walking) and foot sores that heal slowly. Although people with diabetes cannot always avoid PVD, doctors say they have a better chance of avoiding it if they take good care of their feet, do not smoke, and keep both their blood pressure and diabetes under good control.

See also: Macrovascular disease.

Peritoneal Dialysis
A way to clean the blood of people who have kidney disease. See also: Dialysis.

Persistent Hyperinsulinemic Hypoglycemia of Infancy (PHHI)
An alternate term for Nesidioblastosis


A person trained to prepare and distribute medicines and to give information about them.

Using a special strong beam of light (laser) to seal off bleeding blood vessels such as in the eye. The laser can also burn away blood vessels that should not have grown in the eye. This is the main treatment for diabetic retinopathy.

A drug used as a treatment for Type 2 (noninsulin-dependent) diabetes; belongs to a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones.

See also: Oral hypoglycemic agents.

Pituitary Gland
An endocrine gland in the small, bony cavity at the base of the brain. Often called "the master gland," the pituitary serves the body in many ways-in growth, in food use, and in reproduction.

A doctor who treats and takes care of people's feet.

The care and treatment of human feet in health and disease.

Point System
A rarely-used system of meal planning for diabetes in which foods are rated based upon calorie content, regardless of blood glucose effect or nutritional content. One "calorie point" equals 75 calories. The system may have a role to help with weight loss, but is not typically presently recommended for type 1 diabetes.

Compare to carbohydrate counting and Exchange Lists.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A syndrome associated with bilateral polycystic ovaries and insulin resistance. Symptoms frequently include decreased menstrual flow, irregular menses, anovulation, and infertility.

Excessive thirst; may be a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes.

Excessive hunger; may be a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes.

Polyunsaturated Fats
A type of fat that comes from vegetables.

See also: Fats.

Excessive urination; may be a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes.

Poor Man's Pump (Basal/Bolus Insulin Administration)
Using several daily injections of clear insulin (either Regular or Lispro), at mealtimes -- the bolus doses -- together with one or more daily injections of cloudy insulin (either NPH or Ultralente insulin) -- the basal doses -- to achieve blood sugar control in a manner similar to that used by people who use insulin pumps.

Occurring after a meal. Example: Blood taken 1-2 hours after eating to see the amount of glucose in the blood would be called a postprandial blood glucose test.

  1. Traditional definition:
    The stage before the development of diabetes, with normal glucose tolerance but with an increased risk of developing diabetes at some future time. Examples of increased risk might include family history of diabetes, prior diagnosis of gestational diabetes, presence of a positive antibody test for diabetes, or insulin resistance.
  2. Revised definition:
    As of March, 2002, the American Diabetes Association has suggested a new definition for prediabetes: "Pre-diabetes is the state that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes...Doctors sometimes refer to this state of elevated blood glucose levels as Impaired Glucose Tolerance or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IGT/IFG), depending on which test was used to detect it."

A condition that some women with diabetes have during the late stages of pregnancy. Two signs of this condition are high blood pressure and swelling because the body cells are holding extra water.

Occurring before a meal. Example: Blood taken before eating to see the amount of glucose in the blood would be called a preprandial blood glucose test. See also Fasting plasma glucose.

The number of people in a given group or population who are reported to have a disease.

Previous Abnormality of Glucose Tolerance (PrevAGT)
A term for people who have had above-normal levels of blood glucose (sugar) when tested for diabetes in the past but who show as normal on a current test. PrevAGT used to be called either "latent diabetes" or "prediabetes."

Telling a person now what is likely to happen in the future because of having a disease.

The initial protein made by the beta cells of the pancreas that later is broken into several pieces. Proinsulin consists of three parts: C-Peptide and two long strands of amino acids (called the alpha and beta chains) that later become linked together to form the insulin molecule.

From every molecule of proinsulin, one molecule of insulin plus one molecule of C-Peptide are produced.

(It may be noted that commercial production of exogenous insulin purifies the original insulin, and removes any residual proinsulin and C-Peptide that might have been initially present.)

Proliferative Retinopathy
A disease of the small blood vessels of the retina of the eye.

See also: Diabetic retinopathy.

A man-made substitute for a missing body part such as an arm or a leg; also an implant such as for the hip.

One of the three main classes of food. Proteins are made of amino acids, which are called the building blocks of the cells. The cells need proteins to grow and to mend themselves. Protein is found in many foods such as meat, fish, poultry, and eggs.

See also: Carbohydrate; fats.

Too much protein in the urine. This may be a sign of kidney damage.

See also Microalbumin.

Itching skin; may be a symptom of diabetes.

Purified Insulins
Insulins with much less of the impure proinsulin. It is thought that the use of purified insulins may help avoid or reduce some of the problems of people with diabetes such as allergic reactions.


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Last Updated: Sun Jul 06 10:41:27 2008
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