CHICAGO (CBS) — Would you know the symptoms of diabetes? Knowledge could mean the difference between life and death. The search for answers brought thousands of people to McCormick place Saturday.

CBS-2’S Derrick Young kicked off the annual diabetes expo–a one stop experience for people to get information about a disease that affects more than 25-million people in the United States alone.

“Seven million people don’t even know they have it, so they are walking around with high blood sugar and all of the possible complications that go with it and they’re not even aware,” said Dr. Elif Oker, a medical director for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

Raising awareness is the goal of the expo. People can get screenings for blood sugar or nerve and foot problems, issues that if left untreated can lead to more serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, and even amputation.

There’s also information about lifestyle changes to manage diabetes, like exercise and healthy eating.

Legendary R & B singer Patti Labelle has lived with the disease for 20 years and even lost loved ones to it. She shared her cooking tips, and says her diagnosis gave her a new attitude.

“Do I want to live longer, or do I want to leave sooner? So I changed my outlook on life and I realized that I had to start exercising, I had to do everything differently,” said Labelle.

Expo visitors say they appreciate learning about new ways to deal with diabetes.

“I found out I can stick my finger and not have it hurt so much,” said Bettie Ross.

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