Diabetes a concern for many, but Huntsville Hospital offers program that can help

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Centers for Disease Control estimates at least 29 million people in the United States are dealing with diabetes.  Some of that, unfortunately, is undiagnosed. But there is a resource at Huntsville Hospital helping people with that fight. It's called Diabetes University.

Phyllis Basham is taking her health destiny into her own hands.  Everything seemed good. She had an active life. But her blood sugar levels showed something wasn't right.

"I had gone for my physical regularly and after my third physical a year apart, my blood sugar and my glucose had gone up a little bit," said Basham.  "When it got to staying over a hundred, my doctor said 'we need to go ahead and take care of this'."

Part of taking care of it includes "Diabetes University." The Diabetes Control Center operates out of Huntsville Hospital.

"Worst case scenario for diabetes patients is complications," said Marlyse Knezevich, a diabetes educator. "Diabetes is aggressive and it's progressive. So it doesn't stop."

If it's left unchecked, diabetes can cause blindness and kidney disease and put you in a higher risk category for stroke and heart attacks. Infection risks go up, and can lead to amputations.

The numbers are staggering.

"One in three patients in our hospital are diabetic," said Knezevich.

Diabetes University helps people all along the curve -- people who have dire diabetes trouble, or people like Phyllis Basham, whose diabetes just sort of sneaked up over the years.

But what about people who seem overwhelmed at starting the journey to wellness?

"We tell them to start with the basics, and look for the good evidence-based information rather than things like fads, or extreme types of eating. Start with meal planning of basic foods," said Pam Glover, a Huntsville Hospital Nutritionist.

Health Matters airs every Monday on WHNT News 19 at 4:00 p.m. Next week, the pros at Diabetes University will give us a reality check on things like portion control.