Health Literacy Thesaurus: Medical terms, phrases, references,
and their Plain English equivalents or definitions

S (sanitary - systemic)

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sanitaryclean, germ free, healthful
sanitizeclean, wash, clean up, make germ-free, disinfect
Scarlatinascarlet fever
scheduleplan, planning a time to do something
seasonal influenzacommon flu; winter flu
second- and third-order effectsthings that happen as a result of your actions
sectorgroup, community, neighborhood
segmentpart, piece
seizurefit of uncontrolled movements
sensitiveeasily hurt, easy to damage, sore
seroconversionwhen your body starts to make cells to fight a disease, way your body fights against disease
serologystudy of blood strength
serosurveytest to see how likely you are to get a disease
severestrong, serious, harmful, dangerous, very bad
severityhow bad
shortness of breathdifficulty catching breath, difficult breathing
side effectreaction, reaction to a medicine
significantbig, serious, important
situatedplaced, located
Sjogren’s syndromedry eyes and mouth
skullbones of head that protect the brain
social distancingstay at home; keep away from people
socializemake friends, talk with people, meet people
solicitask for
sorenesshurt, pain, ache
spasmsudden, strong muscle tightening, jerk, painful twist
speciesgroup of plants or animals, same type, alike
spirometerbreathing test, machine used to measure breath strength, breath strength tool indicator
spontaneousunplanned, sudden
stableok, no change, constant, even, unchanging
staminastrength, endurance
state of readinessready, now ready, prepared
statesay, tell, condition
statusstate, condition
steroidmedicine, drug to lessen swelling, illegal sports drugs
stigmamark, spot, blemish, embarrassment
stimulateexcite, stir up, activate
strainspecific type of plant or animal or germ
stressphysical, mental or emotional tension or strain
stringentstrict, tight, controlled
subclinical infectionminor illness
submitgive, hand in, send
subsequentfollowing, next, later
subsequentlyafter that, later, afterward
substancechemical, material, matter, stuff
Sudden Infant Death SyndromeSIDS; crib death; sudden, unexplained death of a baby
sufficebe enough
sufficientenough, plenty, ample
suffocatechoke, smother
summoncall for
sun protection factorsunscreen, sun block
superficialnot important, not harmful, slight
supersedereplace, take the place of
supplementadd to, in addition to, additive, vitamins
supplygive, budget, fund, pool, source, kitty
suppresshold back, stop, slow down
surge capacitybeing able to offer more services in an emergency, ability to expand
surgical maskface mask, mask
surveillancekeep a close eye on, watch closely, monitor
susceptiblemore open to, in danger of getting, likely to get
symptomsign (of disease or sickness)
syndromeillness, sickness, set of signs that often go together
synthesizecombine, form, summarize
systematicplanned out, orderly, regular
Systemic Lupus Erythematosusimmune system disease
systemicthroughout your body, in all parts of your body

Source: CDC Plain Language Thesaurus for Health Communications. Other related materials: Vaccines & Immunizations Glossary; Harvard School of Public Health "Plain Language Glossaries" for asthma, arthritis, and lupus; Medical Library Association "Deciphering Medspeak" for diabetes, stroke, and HIV-AIDS

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