The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the insulin article.
Abdomen: The belly, that part of the body that contains all of the structures between the chest and the pelvis. The abdomen is separated anatomically from the chest by the diaphragm, the powerful muscle spanning the body cavity below the lungs.
Absorption: Uptake. For example, intestinal absorption is the uptake of food (or other substances) from the digestive tract.
Aspirin: Once the Bayer trademark for acetylsalicylic acid, now the common name for this anti-inflammatory pain reliever.
Blood glucose: The main sugar that the body makes from the food in the diet. Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to all cells in the body. Cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.
Blurred vision: Lack of sharpness of vision with, as a result, the inability to see fine detail. Blurred vision can occur when a person who wears corrective lens is without them. Blurred vision can also be an important clue to eye disease.
Breast milk: Milk from the breast. Human milk contains a balance of nutrients that closely matches infant requirements for brain development, growth and a healthy immune system. Human milk also contains immunologic agents and other compounds that act against viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Since an infant's immune system is not fully developed until age 2, human milk provides a distinct advantage over formula.
Breastfeeding: Feeding a child human breast milk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, human breast milk is preferred for all infants. This includes even premature and sick babies, with rare exceptions. It is the food least likely to cause allergic reactions; it is inexpensive; it is readily available at any hour of the day or night; babies accept the taste readily; and the antibodies in breast milk can help a baby resist infections.
Diabetes: Refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name "diabetes" because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination (polyuria).
Diabetes mellitus: Better known just as "diabetes" -- a chronic disease associated with abnormally high levels of the sugar glucose in the blood. Diabetes is due to one of two mechanisms:
Diabetic retinopathy: Disease of the retina caused by diabetes that involves damage to the tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye. Early disease may not cause symptoms. As the disease progresses, it enters its advanced, or proliferative, stage. Fragile, new blood vessels grow along the retina and in the clear, gel-like vitreous that fills the inside of the eye. Without timely treatment, these new blood vessels can bleed, cloud vision, and destroy the retina. Everyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Swelling in the portion of the retina that is most sensitive to light (macular edema) makes it hard for a patient to do things like read and drive. As new blood vessels form at the back of the eye, they can bleed and further blur vision. Large hemorrhages tend to happen more than once, often during sleep. There are no early warning signs. Diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy is made during an eye examination that includes a visual acuity test, pupil dilation, ophthalmoscopy (to look in the back of the eye), and tonometry (to check the pressures). The two treatments for diabetic retinopathy are laser surgery, to stop the edema and hemorrhage, and vitrectomy, to remove blood from the back of the eye. It is strongly recommended that all diabetics have eye examinations at least once (ideally twice) a year.
Doxycycline: Brand name: Vibramycin. A synthetic broad-spectrum antibiotic derived from tetracycline. Doxycycline is used for many different types of infections, including respiratory tract infections due to Hemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It is also used for the treatment of nongonococcal urethritis (due to Ureaplasma), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhus, chancroid, cholera, brucellosis, syphilis, and acne.
Epinephrine: A substance produced by the medulla (inside) of the adrenal gland. The name epinephrine was coined in 1898 by the American pharmacologist and physiologic chemist (biochemist) John Jacob Abel who isolated it from the adrenal gland which is located above (epi-) the kidney ("nephros" in Greek). (Abel also crystallized insulin). Technically speaking, epinephrine is a sympathomimetic catecholamine. It causes quickening of the heart beat, strengthens the force of the heart's contraction, opens up the airways (bronchioles) in the lungs and has numerous other effects. The secretion of epinephrine by the adrenal is part of the fight-or-flight reaction. Adrenaline is a synonym of epinephrine and is the official name in the British Pharmacopoeia.
Erosion: An erosion is an eating away of a surface. ("Erodere" in Latin means to eat out.)
Estrogens: Female hormones produced by the ovaries. Estrogen deficiency can lead to osteoporosis.
Expiration date: The date for a drug estimated for its shelf life with proper storage in sealed containers away from harmful and variable factors like heat and humidity.
FDA: Food and Drug Administration.
Generic: 1. The chemical name of a drug. 2. A term referring to the chemical makeup of a drug rather than to the advertised brand name under which the drug may be sold. 3.A term referring to any drug marketed under its chemical name without advertising.
Glucose: The simple sugar that is the chief source of energy. Glucose is found in the blood and is the main sugar that the body manufactures. The body makes glucose from all three elements of food'protein, fats, and carbohydrates'but the largest amount of glucose derives from carbohydrates. Glucose serves as the major source of energy for living cells. However, cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin. Also known as dextrose.
Headache: A pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the head (occipital), or in the back of the upper neck. Headache, like chest pain or back ache, has many causes.
Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. The heart is positioned in the chest behind the sternum (breastbone); in front of the trachea, esophagus, and aorta; and above the diaphragm. A normal heart is about the size of a closed fist and weighs about 298 grams or 10.5 ounces. It is cone-shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down to the left. Two-thirds of the heart lies in the left side of the chest, with the balance in the right side of the chest. The heart is composed of specialized cardiac muscle, and it is four-chambered, with a right atrium and ventricle, and an anatomically separate left atrium and ventricle. The blood flows from the systemic veins into the right atrium, thence to the right ventricle, from which it is pumped to the lungs and then returned into the left atrium, thence to the left ventricle, from which it is driven into the systemic arteries. The heart is thus functionally composed of two hearts: the right heart and the left heart. The right heart consists of the right atrium, which receives deoxygenated blood from the body, and the right ventricle, which pumps the deoxygenated blood to the lungs under low pressure; and the left heart, which consists of the left atrium, which receives oxygenated blood from the lung, and the left ventricle, which pumps the oxygenated blood out to the body under high pressure.
Hormone: A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs. Many hormones are secreted by special glands, such as thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Hormones are essential for every activity of life, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. Many hormones, such as neurotransmitters, are active in more than one physical process.
Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar (glucose). Hypoglycemia may be associated with symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, tremor, palpitations, nausea, and pallor. Hypoglycemia also starves the brain of glucose energy, which is essential for proper brain function. Lack of glucose energy to the brain can cause symptoms ranging from headache, mild confusion, abnormal behavior, loss of consciousness, seizure, and coma. Severe hypoglycemia can cause death. The causes of hypoglycemia include use of drugs (such as insulin), liver disease, surgical absence of the stomach, tumors that release excess amounts of insulin, and pre-diabetes. In some patients, symptoms of hypoglycemia occur during fasting (fasting hypoglycemia). In others, symptoms of hypoglycemia occur after meals (reactive hypoglycemia). Immediate treatment of severe hypoglycemia consists of administering large amounts of glucose and repeating this treatment at intervals if the symptoms persist. Treatment must also be directed at the underlying cause. Treatment of reactive hypoglycemia involves changing the diet, including eating fewer concentrated sweets and ingesting multiple small meals throughout the day.
Hypoglycemic: Relating to hypoglycemia, an abnormally low level of the sugar glucose in the blood, usually a complication of diabetes, in which the body does not produce enough insulin to fully metabolize glucose.
Insulin: A natural hormone made by the pancreas that controls the level of the sugar glucose in the blood. Insulin permits cells to use glucose for energy. Cells cannot utilize glucose without insulin.
Itching: An uncomfortable sensation in the skin that feels as if something is crawling on the skin and makes the person want to scratch the affected area. Itching is medically known as pruritis; something that is itchy is pruritic.
Lens: The transparent structure inside the eye that focuses light rays onto the retina.
Levothyroxine: A synthetic thyroid hormone used as a thyroid hormone replacement drug (brand names include Levothroid, Levoxine, Levoxyl, Synthroid) used to treat an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
Lipodystrophy: A disorder of adipose (fatty) tissue characterized by a selective loss of body fat. Patients with lipodystrophy have a tendency to develop insulin resistance, diabetes, a high triglyceride level (hypertriglyceridemia), and fatty liver. There are numerous forms of lipodystrophy that are genetic (inherited) or acquired (not inherited).
Mouth: 1. The upper opening of the digestive tract, beginning with the lips and containing the teeth, gums, and tongue. Foodstuffs are broken down mechanically in the mouth by chewing and saliva is added as a lubricant. Saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that digests starch. 2. Any opening or aperture in the body. The mouth in both senses of the word is also called the os, the Latin word for an opening, or mouth. The o in os is pronounced as in hope. The genitive form of os is oris from which comes the word oral.
Muscle: Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. There are three types of muscle in the body. Muscle which is responsible for moving extremities and external areas of the body is called "skeletal muscle." Heart muscle is called "cardiac muscle." Muscle that is in the walls of arteries and bowel is called "smooth muscle."
Nausea: Stomach queasiness, the urge to vomit. Nausea can be brought on by many causes, including systemic illnesses (such as influenza), medications, pain, and inner ear disease.
NPH: Normal pressure hydrocephalus.
Nursing: 1) Profession concerned with the provision of services essential to the maintenance and restoration of health by attending the needs of sick persons. 2) Feeding a infant at the breast.
Onset: In medicine, the first appearance of the signs or symptoms of an illness as, for example, the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
Palpitations: Unpleasant sensations of irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart. In some patients with palpitations, no heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms can be found. In others, palpitations result from abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
Pancreas: A spongy, tube-shaped organ that is about 6 inches long and is located in the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. The head of the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen. It is connected to the upper end of the small intestine. The narrow end of the pancreas, called the tail, extends to the left side of the body. The pancreas makes pancreatic juices and hormones, including insulin and secretin. Pancreatic juices contain enzymes that help digest food in the small intestine. Both pancreatic enzymes and hormones are needed to keep the body working correctly. As pancreatic juices are made, they flow into the main pancreatic duct, which joins to the common bile duct, which connects the pancreas to the liver and the gallbladder and carries bile to the small intestine near the stomach. The pancreas is thus a compound gland in the sense that it is composed of both exocrine and endocrine tissues. The exocrine function of the pancreas involves the synthesis and secretion of pancreatic juices. The endocrine function resides in the million or so cellular islands (the islets of Langerhans) that are embedded between the exocrine units of the pancreas. Beta cells of the islets of Langerhans secrete insulin, which helps control carbohydrate metabolism. Alpha cells of the islets of Langerhans secrete glucagon, which counters the action of insulin.
Perspiration: 1) The secretion of fluid by the sweat (sudoriferous) glands. These small, tubular glands are situated within the skin, as well as in the subcutaneous tissue under it. They discharge their fluid through tiny openings in the surface of the skin. Perspiration serves at least two purposes: the removal of waste products such as urea and ammonia, and cooling of the body temperature as sweat evaporates. 2) The transparent, colorless, acidic fluid secreted by the sweat glands. It contains some fatty acids and mineral matter. Adult perspiration gains its characteristic odor from the waste products excreted. Also known as sweat.
Pregnancy: The state of carrying a developing embryo or fetus within the female body. This condition can be indicated by positive results on an over-the-counter urine test, and confirmed through a blood test, ultrasound, detection of fetal heartbeat, or an X-ray. Pregnancy lasts for about nine months, measured from the date of the woman's last menstrual period (LMP). It is conventionally divided into three trimesters, each roughly three months long.
Pregnant: The state of carrying a developing fetus within the body.
Prescription: A physician's order for the preparation and administration of a drug or device for a patient. A prescription has several parts. They include the superscription or heading with the symbol "R" or "Rx", which stands for the word recipe (meaning, in Latin, to take); the inscription, which contains the names and quantities of the ingredients; the subscription or directions for compounding the drug; and the signature which is often preceded by the sign "s" standing for signa (Latin for mark), giving the directions to be marked on the container.
Rash: Breaking out (eruption) of the skin. A rash can be caused by an underlying medical condition, hormonal cycles, allergies, or contact with irritating substances. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the rash. Medically, a rash is referred to as an exanthem.
Recombinant: A person with a new combination of genes, a combination not present in either parent, due to parental recombination of those genes.
Resistance: Opposition to something, or the ability to withstand something. For example, some forms of the staphylococcus bacterium are resistant to treatment with antibiotics.
Retinopathy: Any disease of the retina, the light-sensitive membrane at the back of the eye. The type of retinopathy is often specified, such as arteriosclerotic retinopathy, diabetic retinopathy, or hypertensive retinopathy.
Sodium: The major positive ion (cation) in the fluid surrounding cells in the body. The chemical notation for sodium is Na+. When sodium is combined with chloride, the resulting substance is a crystal called table salt. Excess dietary sodium is largely excreted in the urine, but too much salt in the diet tends to increase the blood pressure. Too much or too little sodium in the blood (called hypernatremia or hyponatremia respectively) can cause cells to malfunction, and extremes can be fatal. Normal blood sodium level is 135'145 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L) or 135'145 millimoles/liter (mmol/L) in international units.
Subcutaneous: Under the skin. For example, a subcutaneous injection is an injection in which a needle is inserted just under the skin. Also known as subcu. Abbreviated subq.
Tetracycline: A family of broad-spectrum antibiotics effective against a remarkably wide variety of organisms. Bacteria susceptible to tetracycline include H. flu (Haemophilus influenzae), strep (Streptococcus pneumoniae), Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia psittaci, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (the cause of gonorrhea). Tetracycline is also used to treat nongonococcal urethritis (due to Ureaplasma), Rocky mountain spotted fever, typhus, chancroid, cholera, brucellosis, anthrax, and syphilis. It is used in combination with other medications to treat Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with ulcers of the stomach and duodenum.
Therapy: The treatment of disease. Therapy is synonymous with treatment.
Thyroid: 1. The thyroid gland. Also, pertaining to the thyroid gland. 2. A preparation of the thyroid gland used to treat hypothyroidism. 3. Shaped like a shield. (The thyroid gland was so-named by Thomas Wharton in 1656 because it was shaped like an ancient Greek shield.)
Thyroid hormones: Chemical substances made by the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck. This gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones, which are essential for the function of every cell in the body. They help regulate growth and the rate of chemical reactions (metabolism), and are involved in the circadian rhythms that govern sleep, among other essential functions.
Tiredness: See: Tired.
Type 1 diabetes: See Diabetes, type 1.
Type 2 diabetes: See Diabetes, type 2.
Vibramycin: Brand name for doxycycline.
Yawning: Involuntary opening of the mouth with respiration, breathing first inward, then outward. Yawning is often caused by the power of suggestion. Repeated yawning may be a sign of drowsiness. It can also sometimes be a sign of depression.
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