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Glossary B

Background retinopathy - This is the term given to early damage of the retina in diabetes. This is picked up during an eye examination where digital photographs are taken to reveal the damage.


Basal rate - Refers to a continuous supply of something, be it a chemical or process. In the case of diabetes mellitus, it refers to continuous low levels of insulin needed for such purposes as controlling cellular glucose, amino acid and potassium uptake.

Basal insulin – insulin is released throughout the body, day and night as a constant trickle to control the “background” blood glucose levels needed for normal body functioning, independent of food consumption. Basal insulin is taken once a day at the same time of day.

BERTIE - Broomfield's Education Resources for Training in Insulin and Eating. Is a Carbohydrate counting course for people who inject insulin.

Beta cell - One class of cells found in the islets of Langehans in the pancreas. They are the source of they body’s natural insulin, and contain mechanisms which watch blood glucose levels and secrete (or not) insulin in response.

Biguanide - a class of oral administered medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes.  This lowers blood glucose by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and thus helping the body respond better to insulin. (Generic name: metformin.)


Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) - A measurement of a metabolic waste product in one’s blood. Urea is one end product of protein metabolism. Increased levels of BUN in the blood may indicate early kidney damage as the kidney fails to excrete it in the urine.

Blood vessels – Tubes which are part of the circulatory system which carry blood around the body. They come in three types, arteries, veins, and capillaries. Capillaries are tiny, the others vary from large to quite small.

Body Mass Index (BMI) – a method of determining by the relationship between height and weight whether or not a person is obese, overweight, underweight or of normal weight. To find BMI: Multiply body weight in pounds by 703. Divide that number by height in inches. Divide that number by height in inches again. Find the resulting number in the chart below.
Below 18.5 is underweight.
18.5-24.9 is normal.
25.0-29.9 is overweight.
30.0 and above is obese

Bolus – this generally refers to an extra amount of insulin given in a single one dose to cover an expected rise in blood glucose that comes for food intake.

Borderline diabetes – is a term no longer used. See: pre diabetes.

Brittle diabetes - A term used when a person's blood glucose level is unstable and swings quickly from high to low and from low to high. Also called labile and unstable diabetes.

Bulk sweeteners - include products such as sorbitol or fructose. Often used in “sugar free” and supposedly “diabetic” sweets, cakes, chocolate etc instead of sugar because they are not classed as sugars. However, such items have similar nutritional content as standard confectionery, can raise blood glucose levels in a similar way and contain similar calories.



Biosynthetic human insulin - A man-made insulin that is chemically identical to as possible to natural human insulin. See also: Human insulin.

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

Blood glucose - Glucose is a simple sugar and the primary fuel for our body’s cells. Glucose is absorbed from food and is absorbed into the cells and is stored in the liver as glycogen, made in starvation from the glycerine backbone of triglycerides, and from a few amino acids. Anomalies of glucose metabolism are the cause of diabetes mellitus.

Blood glucose meter – is a battery operated machine which is a key element to home blood glucose and determines the current level of glucose in a blood sample. A blood sample is taken from a finger by using a lancet.  The sample is then placed onto the disposable test strip when the meter is ready. It will then display the data and put the results into the memory.

Blood glucose monitoring - tracking blood glucose level, usually by using a blood glucose meter.

Blood pressure - The pressure in arteries exerted by blood pumping within the body. It has two values. The higher is taken immediately after the left ventricle contracts. The lower is taken just before that contraction.

Blood sugar – also known as blood glucose.

Glossary B

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