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It often seems insulin pumpers speak a language of their own. You’ve probably heard some of the lingo. To bring you up to speed, we've provided definitions for some of the more frequently used terms.

Basal Rate

A continuous supply of something. For pumpers it’s the steady trickle of insulin released from their pump that’s needed between meals and at night.

Blood Glucose

A simple blood sugar and main source of energy for the body’s cells.

Blood Sugar

Another term for blood glucose.

Bolus Dose

An amount of something given in one “lump.” For pumpers it’s the extra insulin taken to counteract food eaten or to correct high blood glucose.


Pronounced can-new-la. A tiny Teflon® or steel tube that’s inserted under the skin to deliver insulin into the body from an insulin pump. Held in place by an adhesive pad.


A disposable container used to hold insulin inside an insulin pump. Also called a reservoir.


Continuous glucose monitoring system: technology that continuously measures glucose levels with a tiny sensor inserted under the skin, which sends data to an insulin pump or a small wireless monitor. It’s used to detect trends and patterns in glucose levels, and doesn’t eliminate finger prick testing needed for the most up-to-date glucose readings.


Continuous sub-cutaneous insulin infusion: another term for insulin pump therapy, in which insulin is delivered continuously under the skin.

Dawn Phenomenon

A sudden rise in blood glucose levels in the early morning hours.

Diabetes Mellitus

Another term for common type 1 or type 2 diabetes, which is a disease that occurs when the body isn’t able to use dietary carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, starch) as it should to produce blood glucose to fuel the body’s cells. Caused by a lack of insulin, inability to respond to insulin, or both.

Hemoglobin A1C

A minor component in hemoglobin to which glucose is bound. The higher the glucose concentration in blood, the higher the level of HA1C. It’s tested to determine how well a person’s diabetes is being controlled.


A condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal.

Infusion Set

A tubing system that enables an insulin pump to release insulin into the body through an infusion site. Consists of tubing (through which insulin flows from the pump to a cannula); cannula (a small tube that stays in the body, allowing insulin to pass through); introducer needle (used to insert the cannula under the skin); adhesive pad (keeps the cannula attached to the body); and sometimes an inserter (a device that makes it easier to insert an introducer needle). Infusion sets are typically replaced every three days.


A small, spring-loaded device that allows for fast, easy and virtually painless insertion of an introducer needle under the skin, that’s used to insert a cannula.


A hormone, which is a very small protein, that’s produced by the pancreas. It’s the main control mechanism for the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, especially the conversion of glucose to glycogen, which lowers the blood glucose level.

Insulin Pump

A small computerized device that provides a steady flow of insulin to the body through an infusion site.

Introducer Needle

A small needle used to puncture the skin so a cannula can be inserted.

Line Pump

The most common type of insulin pump. It uses a thin tube connected to an infusion site on the body through which insulin is delivered.


An abdominal organ that produces several hormones, most notably insulin, as well as chemicals used in the intestines for digestion.

Patch Pump

A disposable pump that releases insulin directly into the body through a cannula attached to the pump. It’s held onto the skin by an adhesive pad, controlled by a small wireless device and replaced usually every three days.


A disposable container used to hold insulin inside an insulin pump. Also called a cartridge.


A thin hose through which insulin flows from an insulin pump through a cannula and into the body.

Type 1 Diabetes

A condition in which the pancreas no longer makes insulin that converts carbohydrates into blood glucose to fuel the body’s cells.

Type 2 Diabetes

A condition in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly, reducing the blood glucose needed to nourish the body’s cells.

Diabetes has been reported in horses, ferrets, and ground squirrels. In environments where animals are liberally fed, diabetes has been reported in dolphins, foxes and even a hippopotamus.