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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 30.3 million people (9.4% of the US population) have diabetes. Among the people with diabetes, 7.2 million don’t even know they have it. About 1.4 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year. 

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar and released into your bloodstream. Your pancreas makes insulin, which acts like a key to let the blood sugar (or blood glucose) into you body’s cells to be used as energy. 

When you have diabetes, insulins does not work as it should and too much blood sugar is in your bloodstream, instead of being used as energy in the body’s cells. Over time, high blood glucose can lead to serious problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes. 

Free diabetes testing supplies are available to eligible members and dependents through their prescription benefits. 


Diabetes can affect every part of the body, including skin, feet, eyes, heart, nerves, and kidney. Long-term complications will develop over time. The longer you have diabetes – and the less controlled your blood sugar – the higher the risk of complications. These can include:
  • Cardiovascular disease – Diabetes dramatically increases your risk of various heart problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain, heart attack, stroke, and narrowing of the arteries.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy) – Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning, or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. If left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves related to digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, 
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy) – The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel cluster that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant. 
  • Eye damage (retinopathy) – Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina, potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma. 
  • Foot damage – Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections, which often heal poorly. These inflections may ultimately require toe, foot, or leg amputation. 
  • Skin conditions – Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems including bacterial and fungal infections. 
  • Hearing impairment – Hearing problems are common in people with diabetes.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease – Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. 
  • Depression – Symptoms of depression are common in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Depression can affect diabetes management. 

Diabetes Heart Connection

Of people with diabetes, LESS THAN HALF are aware of their increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This lack of awareness prevent people with diabetes and their families from addressing risks and improving health.  The annual estimated medical cost and economic loss from premature death and disability caused by diabetes is $245 billion. More than 25% of cost of treating diabetes relates to cardiovascular complications. In Ohio, 1 in 7 adults – more than 1.3 million people – have diabetes. Diabetes prevalence in Ohio had more than doubled in the last 20 years.

Source: American Diabetes Association


Links to various resources on the topics discuss on this page. 

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