Module 1
What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a class of disorders, not just one disease. The hallmark symptom of diabetes is high blood sugar. This rise in blood sugar is a result of poor insulin secretion and poor insulin sensitivity. Normally, insulin is released after eating and causes the body to absorb the sugar from your bloodstream. Without enough insulin, or if the insulin isn’t working properly, the sugar will remain in your bloodstream.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Normal blood sugar

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)

Over time, too much sugar in your bloodstream can cause many problems for your body. Sugar in your bloodstream can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, brain, and blood vessels.








It is important to have regular check-ups if you have diabetes because of these potential problems. Your primary care physician will be able to help with most things, but it is also important to have a foot specialist, an eye specialist, and a nutritionist. You should have a check-up at least once per year. These check-ups should help prevent things like cataracts in your eyes, kidney failure, deadly foot infection, and plaque in your blood vessels.

If your diabetes is uncontrolled, you may feel many highs and lows throughout the day. Usually, these highs and lows are caused by changes in your blood sugar. If there is not enough sugar in your bloodstream (hypoglycemia) you may feel tired, anxious, hungry, confused, or irritable. On the other hand, if there is too much sugar in your bloodstream (hyperglycemia) you may feel thirsty, tired, nauseous, or confused. It is essential to report these types of symptoms to your doctor, and they will help to develop a plan that will control your diabetes and prevent these symptoms.

There are many serious complications associated with diabetes, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Over 10% of people over the age of 20 have type II diabetes and the number is increasing. Diabetes does not imply that you are completely unhealthy or unfit. In fact, some of the hardest working people have or had type II diabetes. People like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Larry King, and Kyle Love have all struggled with diabetes. These people were able to take their diagnosis in stride, and with proper diet and exercise management, they are able to continue to do great work despite diabetes.

How will life change with diabetes?

Some of the biggest changes for diabetic patients will come in the form of new medications, a new diet, and a new exercise routine. As with anything new, it can seem very intimidating at first to make these changes. However, these changes are essential to good health, and over time you can learn to love the things you least expected.

You will find tons of healthy recipes you actually enjoy!

As you exercise more and more, breaking your records will be an incredibly satisfying thing!

Your medications will level off your blood sugar, so you shouldn’t experience as many highs and lows throughout the day!

What are my diabetes goals?

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you may have heard the terms fasting plasma glucose, postprandial plasma glucose, and hemoglobin A1C. These are the special measurements your doctor will use to figure out how well your diabetes is controlled. Fasting plasma glucose is a measurement of sugar in your blood after not eating for at least 8 hours. If your diabetes is well controlled, your fasting plasma glucose should be less than 126 mg/dL. Postprandial plasma glucose is a measurement of the sugar in your blood 2 hours after eating a meal. If your diabetes is well controlled, your postprandial plasma 

glucose should be less than 200 mg/dL after 2 hours. If the sugar in your blood is greater than 200 mg/dL 2 hours after a meal, it is clear that your body is not properly digesting and absorbing the food you ate. The last measure is your hemoglobin A1C. This is a very sophisticated measurement that determines your average plasma glucose over the last 90 days. In well controlled diabetes, your hemoglobin A1C should be at 6.5% or less.

Click each icon below to download additional files related to the content of this module. If the file is a worksheet, you will need to complete this before moving on to your next module. All other files are for your reference only.

Module 1 Worksheet

Diabetes Glossary

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