Common Terms: S-Z

Below is a list of diabetes-related terms and their definitions. Use the letter groupings to jump to words beginning with those letters.
Adapted from NIDDK.

A-E | F-K | L-R | S-Z

saccharin (SAK-ah-rin)
a sweetener with no calories and no nutritional value.

secondary diabetes
a type of diabetes caused by another disease or certain drugs or chemicals.

self-management
in diabetes, the ongoing process of managing diabetes. Includes meal planning, planned physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, taking diabetes medicines, handling episodes of illness and of low and high blood glucose, managing diabetes when traveling, and more. The person with diabetes designs his or her own self-management treatment plan in consultation with a variety of health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and others.

sharps container
a container for disposal of used needles and syringes; often made of hard plastic so that needles cannot poke through.

short-acting insulin
a type of insulin that starts to lower blood glucose within 30 minutes after injection and has its strongest effect 2 to 5 hours after injection. See regular insulin.

side effects
the unintended action(s) of a drug.

sliding scale
a set of instructions for adjusting insulin on the basis of blood glucose test results, meals, or activity levels.

Somogyi effect, also called rebound hyperglycemia (suh-MOH-jee)
when the blood glucose level swings high following hypoglycemia. The Somogyi effect may follow an untreated hypoglycemic episode during the night and is caused by the release of stress hormones.

sorbitol (SORE-bih-tall)
1. A sugar alcohol (sweetener) with 2.6 calories per gram. 2. A substance produced by the body in people with diabetes that can cause damage to the eyes and nerves.

split mixed dose
division of a prescribed daily dose of insulin into two or more injections given over the course of the day.

starch
another name for carbohydrate, one of the three main nutrients in food.

stroke
condition caused by damage to blood vessels in the brain; may cause loss of ability to speak or to move parts of the body.

subcutaneous injection (sub-kyoo-TAY-nee-us)
putting a fluid into the tissue under the skin with a needle and syringe.

sucralose
a sweetener made from sugar but with no calories and no nutritional value.

sucrose
a two-part sugar made of glucose and fructose. Known as table sugar or white sugar, it is found naturally in sugar cane and in beets.

sugar
1. A class of carbohydrates with a sweet taste, including glucose, fructose and sucrose. 2. A term used to refer to blood glucose.

sugar alcohols
sweeteners that produce a smaller rise in blood glucose than other carbohydrates. Their calorie content is about 2 calories per gram. Includes erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol. Also known as polyols (PAH-lee-alls.)

sugar diabetes
former term for diabetes mellitus.

sulfonylurea (sul-fah-nil-yoo-REE-ah)
a class of oral medicine for Type 2 diabetes that lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin and by helping the body better use the insulin it makes. (Generic names: acetohexamide, chlorpropamide, glimepiride, glipizide, glyburide, tolazamide, tolbutamide)

syringe (suh-RINJ)
a device used to inject medications or other liquids into body tissues. The syringe for insulin has a hollow plastic tube with a plunger inside and a needle on the end.

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team management
a diabetes treatment approach in which medical care is provided by a team of health care professionals including a doctor, a dietitian, a nurse, a diabetes educator, and others. The team acts as advisers to the person with diabetes.

thiazolidinedione (THIGH-uh-ZOH-lih-deen-DYE-own)
a class of oral medicine for Type 2 diabetes that helps insulin take glucose from the blood into the cells for energy by making cells more sensitive to insulin. (Generic names: pioglitazone and rosiglitazone)

tolazamide (tohl-AH-zah-mide)
an oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin and by helping the body better use the insulin it makes. Belongs to the class of medicines called sulfonylureas. (Brand name: Tolinase)

tolbutamide (tohl-BYOO-tah-mide)
an oral medicine used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood glucose by helping the pancreas make more insulin and by helping the body better use the insulin it makes. Belongs to the class of medicines called sulfonylureas. (Brand name: Orinase)

triglyceride (try-GLISS-er-ide)
the storage form of fat in the body. High triglyceride levels may occur when diabetes is out of control.

Type 1 diabetes
a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by a total lack of insulin. Occurs when the body's immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops most often in young people but can appear in adults.

Type 2 diabetes
a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body's inability to use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults but can appear in young people.

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ulcer (UL-sur)
a deep open sore or break in the skin.

ultralente insulin (UL-truh-LEN-tay)
long-acting insulin. On average, ultralente insulin starts to lower blood glucose within 4 to 6 hours after injection. It has its strongest effect 10 to 18 hours after injection but keeps working 24 to 28 hours after injection. Also called U insulin.

unit of insulin
the basic measure of insulin. U-100 insulin means 100 units of insulin per milliliter (mL) or cubic centimeter (cc) of solution. Most insulin made today in the United States is U-100.

United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS)
a study in England, conducted from 1977 to 1997 in people with Type 2 diabetes. The study showed that if people lowered their blood glucose, they lowered their risk of eye disease and kidney damage. In addition, those with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension who lowered their blood pressure also reduced their risk of stroke, eye damage, and death from long-term complications.

urea (yoo-REE-uh)
a waste product found in the blood that results from the normal breakdown of protein in the liver. Urea is normally removed from the blood by the kidneys and then excreted in the urine.

uremia (yoo-REE-mee-ah)
the illness associated with the buildup of urea in the blood because the kidneys are not working effectively. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, and mental confusion.

urine
the liquid waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys, stored in the bladder, and expelled from the body by the act of urinating.

urine testing
also called urinalysis; a test of a urine sample to diagnose diseases of the urinary system and other body systems. Urine may also be checked for signs of bleeding. Some tests use a single urine sample. For others, 24-hour collection may be needed. And sometimes a sample is "cultured" to see exactly what type of bacteria grows.

urologist (yoo-RAH-luh-jist)
a doctor who treats people who have urinary tract problems. A urologist also cares for men who have problems with their genital organs, such as impotence.

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vascular (VAS-kyoo-ler)
relating to the body's blood vessels.

vein
a blood vessel that carries blood to the heart.

very-long-acting insulin
a type of insulin that starts to lower blood glucose within 1 hour after injection and keeps working evenly for 24 hours after injection.

very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol
a form of cholesterol in the blood; high levels may be related to cardiovascular disease.

vitrectomy (vih-TREK-tuh-mee)
surgery to restore sight in which the surgeon removes the cloudy vitreous humor in the eye and replaces it with a salt solution.

vitreous humor (VIH-tree-us)
the clear gel that lies behind the eye's lens and in front of the retina.

void
to urinate; to empty the bladder.

wound care
steps taken to ensure that a wound such as a foot ulcer heals correctly. People with diabetes need to take special precautions so wounds do not become infected.

xylitol (ZY-lih-tall)
a carbohydrate-based sweetener found in plants and used as a substitute for sugar; provides calories. Found in some mints and chewing gum.

50/50 insulin
premixed insulin that is 50 percent intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin and 50 percent short-acting (regular) insulin.

70/30 insulin
premixed insulin that is 70 percent intermediate-acting (NPH) insulin and 30 percent short-acting (regular) insulin.

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  • Last Reviewed: August 1, 2013
  • Last Edited: April 7, 2014

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