Diabetes Dictionary





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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.

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.


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


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.


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, 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.

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.

Triglyceride (try-GLISS-er-ide)

the storage form of fat in the body. High triglyceride levels may occur when diabetes is out of control.

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.

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.


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.

Vascular (VAS-kyoo-ler)

relating to the body’s blood vessels.


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.


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.

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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