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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Diabetes Terminology   (May 31, 2007)

Sometimes the editor in me gets a bit irritated when I see non-standard versions of diabetes terminology. Here are some examples:

1) It's pretty standard now-a-days that the two types of diabetes should be rendered with an uncapitalized letter followed by an Arabic numeral (except at the beginning of a sentence, duuuh!). In the past, it was "Type I" and "Type II" but these usages are now considered outdated.

Correct uses:

At the FDA website: ...available treatment options for their type 2 diabetes.

and ADA: In one category, type 1 diabetes, the cause is...

and AACE: The 41 million Americans who have pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes

2) The use of HbA1c vs. A1C is unresolved. There's been a recent push to use "A1C", but us old-timers still like HbA1c. (I've also seen it as "HgbA1c" but that's a minority opinion.)

at ADA: An A1C (also known as glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c) test...

But on the other hand, at the AACE website: The HbA1c test, or "A1C" test, for short, is a blood sugar test...

And here.  
What is HgbA1c?
Also known as: Hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, Glycohemoglobin, Glycated hemoglobin, Glycosylated hemoglobin
Formal name:
A1c

3) "Glucometer" is/was a brand name; the use of "glucometer" as equivalent to "glucose meter" is not yet as common as use of Kleenex or Xerox or aspirin as generics. Per Google several days ago:

about 339,000 for glucometer.
about 479,000 for "
glucose meter"
about 269,000 for "
glucose monitor"

Personally, I don’t think "glucometer" is appropriate in formal writing unless referring to the brand-name device. By the way, there's a picture of an old Glucometer at Once upon a time.

4) I think it should be "pre-diabetes" (with hyphen), not prediabetes (without hyphen).

At AACE:  The 41 million Americans who have pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes...

and ADA: There is a lot you can do yourself to know your risks for pre-diabetes.

5) and finally, there are some word choices that I never did like and grate on my nerves whenever I see them:

  • using "diabetic" as a noun to label someone who has diabetes: "He is a severe diabetic" and
  • labeling people with diabetes as "victims" (this one usually can be found in the media): "Upcoming seminar to offer help for diabetes victims".

Got any others? If so, please let us all know by leaving a comment!

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.



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