Diabetes Glossary

Browse or search for definitions from our comprehensive list of diabetes terms.

Browse Glossary: "s"



a sweetener with no calories and no nutritional value.

saturated fat

is fat that consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acid radicals. There are several kinds of naturally-occurring saturated fatty acids, which differ by the number of carbon atoms, ranging from 3 carbons

secondary diabetes

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


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.


a severe condition that disturbs the body. A person with diabetes can go into shock when the level of blood glucose

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

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:


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.



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.


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


see nateglinide.


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


putting a fluid into the tissue under the skin with a needle and syringe.


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


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.


1. A class of carbohydrates with a sweet taste; includes 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

sugar diabetes

former term for diabetes mellitus.



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.)



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.


a word used to describe conditions that affect the entire body. Diabetes is a systemic disease because it involves many parts of the body such as the pancreas, eyes, kidneys, heart, and nerves.


    Our glossary includes and builds on the definitions found in The Diabetes Dictionary (NIH Publication No. 07-3016, October 2006) published by the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, which is available on their website and is not copyrighted. The Clearinghouse encourages users of this publication to duplicate and distribute as many copies as desired.

    The U.S. Government does not endorse or favor any specific commercial product or company. Trade, proprietary, or company names appearing in this document are used only because they are considered essential in the context of the information provided.

    The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). For more information, visit their website at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.