Anglais médical - Tout sur le diabète

Publié le 01/06/2012

Régulièrement, cette rubrique animée par Virginia Allum, auteur et consultante EMP (English for Medical Purposes), vous permettra, exercices à l'appui, de parfaire votre anglais médical au travers de situations de soins concrètes. Bon travail à tous !

N'hésitez pas à vous servir du dictionnaire en ligne Wordreference.
Vous trouverez à la fin de cet article les corrections des exercices qui vous sont proposés téléchargeables au format pdf.

Talking about diabetes

Before you start, review these terms

metabolism : chemical changes in the body which are needed to produce energy.
Bloodstream : flow of blood through the body
digestion : break down of food in the body
hormone : chemical produced in the body which regulates the function of certain organs
endocrine : release of a hormone from a gland into the bloodstream
exocrine : release of a hormone into a duct to be taken to a particular part of the body
gland : a group of cells which produce an endocrine or exocrine secretion
hyperglycaemia : high blood glucose level
hypoglycaemia : low blood glucose level
pancreas : gland with an endocrine and exocrine function

Activity 1

What is diabetes ?

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus (mellitus comes from the Latin word mel meaning honey) is a type of metabolic disorder. Metabolic disorders are conditions concerned with the ability of the body to digest food and produce energy.
As food is digested it is broken down into a form of sugar called glucose. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body. After digestion, the glucose enters the bloodstream with the help of insulin.

Insulin is a hormone which is produced by the pancreas, one of the body’s endocrine as well as exocrine glands. As food enters the body, the pancreas automatically releases the correct amount of insulin to allow glucose to move from the bloodstream into the cells. This has the effect of lowering the blood glucose level.

People with diabetes may suffer from hyperglycaemia or high blood glucose levels. It is sometimes caused when the body does not produce enough insulin to reduce blood glucose levels. It may also be caused if the body does not respond correctly to the insulin produced by the pancreas. In either case, the extra glucose builds up in the blood and is eventually excreted or passed in the urine. Unfortunately, the glucose is then not available for the body’s energy needs.

Read the article “What is diabetes” and answer the questions which follow.

1. What kind of condition is diabetes ?


2. What happens to some of the food when it is broken down in body ?


3. What does the hormone insulin do in the body ?


4. What is one of the causes of high blood glucose levels ?


5. How does the body get rid of some of the excess glucose form the body ?


Activity 2

Blood Glucose Levels

There are two measurements used to measure glucose levels in the blood.

  1. Millimoles per litre ( mmol/L ) - the most common measurement used in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.
  2. Milligrams per decilitres (or 100 millilitres). Milligrams per 100 millilitres is abbreviated to mg/dl. – the most common measurement used in the USA.

It is important to note that there is no difference between an amount given in mmol/L or mg/dl.

Look at the following table

Target Levels of blood glucose Before a meal mmol/L Before a meal mg/dl 2 hours after a meal 2 hours after a meal
Non-diabetic 4 – 5.9 70 - 107

Person with Type 2 diabetes

4 - 7 70 - 125
Person with Type 1 diabetes 4 - 7 70 - 125
Child with diabetes 4 - 8 70 - 145

Read the article ‘ Blood Glucose Levels’ and complete the following statements. Put a line through the incorrect answer.

1. The most common measurement of blood glucose levels in the UK is millimoles per litre / milligrams per decilitre.

2. The number value of milligrams per deciliter is larger / smaller than the number value of millimoles per litre, however they represent the same amount.

3. People who do not have diabetes usually have a slightly lower / higher blood glucose level before a meal than people who have diabetes.

4. Children are allowed to have a slightly higher / lower range of blood glucose level before a meal than people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

5. It is normal for everyone to have a lower / higher blood glucose level after the evening meal before they go to bed.

Activity 3

Complete the two dialogues using the words and phrases in the box below.

gone down ; lower ; higher ; very high ; gone up ; shouldn’t be ; too low ; should be

Dialogue 1

Patient - What’s my blood sugar level, Nurse?

Nurse - It’s 9.4. It’s (1) __________________ since this morning.

Patient - Is it OK?

Nurse - It’s not (2) __________________ but it’s (3) __________________ than it should be.

Patient - What should it be?

Nurse - Well, it (4) __________________ between 4 and 7. It shouldn’t be higher than 7 before your meals.


Dialogue 2

Patient - What’s my blood sugar level, Nurse?

Nurse - It’s 2.6. It’s (5) __________________ since this morning.

Patient - Is it OK?

Nurse - I’m afraid it’s (6) __________________. It’s (7) __________________ than it should be.

Patient - What should it be?

Nurse - Well, it should be between 4 and 7. It's (8) __________________ lower than 4 before your meals.

Activity 4

Equipment used to take a blood glucose level

Before you start, review these terms

gluco- : glucose
-meter : a device used to measure something

Label the pictures of the equipment used in blood glucose testing. Use the terms in the box below to help you

- glucometer : __________________
- test strip : __________________
- lancet : __________________
- test strip container : __________________
- control liquid : __________________
- screen : __________________

Activity 5

Doing a blood glucose level

Complete the excerpts from a dialogue between a nurse and a patient. The nurse needs to do a blood glucose test on a diabetic patient. Select verbs from the box below.

turn ……onto ; put ….onto ; do ; prick ; take ; hold out ; put …into

1. Can I _______________ your blood glucose test, please?

2. I’m going to check your blood glucose level in a minute. Do you mind if I _________________ some blood for a blood glucose test?

3. Could you _______________ your hand , please?

4. Now, just _______ your finger _____ the side.

5. I’ll ___________ your finger so I can get a little bit of blood.

6. I’ll ___________ a drop of blood ___________ the test strip.

7. I just need to _____________ the test strip ___________ the glucometer.

Activity 6

Look at the pictures below and complete the sentences using the phrases in the box. Listen again and check your answers.

- … a drop of blood on the test strip.
- … for the result to fl ash on the screen.
- … hold out your fi nger, please?
- … it on your chart now.
- … prick the side of your fi nger with this lancet.
- … a test strip in the glucometer.
- … the cotton swab on your fi nger now.
- … your blood glucose level before you see the doctor. Is that OK?

Activity 7

Medical Terminology Focus - Diabetes Complications

Before you start, review these terms

-aemia blood
cardio heart
gluco- or glycol- glucose, sugar
hyper- high
hypo- low
nephro- kidney
neuro- nerve
-pathy disease
retino- retina (of the eye)
-uria urine
vasculo- blood vessel

Match the terms 1 - 8 with the correct answers a – h

1. hyperglycaemia (a) nerve disease
2. hypoglycaemia (b) eye disease (of the retina)
3. glycosaemia (c) heart and blood vessels (adj)
4. glucosuria (d) kidney disease
5. nephropathy (e) high blood glucose level
6. neuropathy (f) glucose in the urine
7. cardiovascular (g) low blood glucose level
8. retinopathy (h) glucose in the blood

Activity 8

Text: The dangers of high blood glucose levels

If diabetes is poorly controlled there is a greater risk to diabetics of developing serious complications. Blood glucose levels which remain too high can cause damage to the small blood vessels of the body. If this continues over a long time, patients may develop serious health conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, nephropathy or neuropathy. In addition, they have a greater risk of developing serious cardiovascular disease such as heart attack or stroke.

The complications of diabetes may start to appear 10 to 15 years after a diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes. Patients with Type 2 diabetes tend to suffer from complications sooner, sometimes less than 10 years after being diagnosed with the condition. This is because Type 2 diabetes often remains undiagnosed for several years before symptoms are recognised.

It is important that diabetics have their eyes checked each year to ensure that good eye health is maintained. Patients should also monitor the health of their peripheral nervous system. They need to report any numbness, tingling or ‘pins and needles’ in their feet or hands. This may indicate damage to the nerves. Kidney damage must also be monitored closely.

Diabetics are often prescribed medication to control their blood pressure and protect their kidneys.

Read the text “The dangers of high blood glucose levels” and answer the questions which follow

1. Long-term _____________________ can cause serious complications in diabetes.
(a) hyperglycaemia
(b) hypoglycaemia
(c) hyperglucose

2. The complications which diabetics may develop are :
(a) heart, lung, kidney and eye disease
(b) heart, kidney, nerve and eye disease
(c) kidney, nerve, eye and high blood pressure

3. Patients with _____________________ diabetes may notice complications around 10 – 15 years after their diagnosis
(a) Type 1
(b) Type 2
(c) Gestational diabetes

4. Retinopathy or _____________________ is monitored during the yearly eye examination
(a) kidney disease
(b) nerve disease
(c) eye disease

5. Nerve damage can cause ‘pins and needles’ which is :
(a) an abnormal temperature
(b) an abnormal feeling
(c) a deep cut

Virginia ALLUM
Author and Consultant in English for Medical Purposes
United Kingdom

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