Understanding Type 1.5 Diabetes: How is it different from other kinds and how can it be managed once it’s diagnosed.
We know diabetes is the name given to a group of diseases that directly affect the blood glucose and our bodies’ production of insulin. While the most common types are 1 and 2, and many people can suffer from prediabetes, little was known about type 1.5 diabetes or LADA.
LADA or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults is a “mixed type” of diabetes, which shows up slowly during adulthood like Type 2, but is actually caused by an immune system reaction like what happens with Type 1.
While Type 1.5 diabetes or LADA is a relatively new term, the disease itself is closely considered as Type 1, because patients that have been diagnosed with it, test positive for the glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) autoantibodies in their blood.
These antibodies basically act as markers for immune changes in the beta cells of the pancreas. So, in a simplified version, what causes LADA diabetes? Type 1.5 diabetes basically occurs because the pancreas stops producing adequate amounts of insulin due to the immune changes produced on the cells.
Understanding what causes LADA diabetes is one thing, and it is also important to keep in mind that this disease occurs in an estimated 10% of patients older than 35 years who have already been diagnosed with some type of diabetes, and in a 25% below that age.
While a Doctor specializing in diabetes will be the best source to get a proper diagnosis, there are many latent autoimmune diabetes symptoms that could point to the problem so you can be aware and get the medical attention you need right away.
The most common symptoms include:
- Increased frequency of thirst
- Unintentional weight loss
- Increased frequency of urination
- Blurred vision
- Tingling nervers
- Foggy thoughts or headedness
- Prolonged fatigue
- Feeling hungry soon after your meals
In addition to these latent autoimmune diabetes symptoms, it is especially important to get tested if you are also:
- Younger than 50 years of age
- There is a family history of autoimmune diseases (arthritis, thyroid, etc.)
- You take insulin because other types of medications are not working to lower your blood glucose
As a fairly new concept, type 1.5 diabetes may often be misdiagnosed as type 2, and will only be considered as LADA if the prescribed medication to treat and control your blood sugar levels fails to perform as expected.
If you are having doubts or you believe you’ve shown any of the above mentioned latent autoimmune diabetes symptoms, you can request certain tests from your doctor in order to get a better diagnosis.
Your diabetes health care provider will be able to administer a C-Peptide Test and a GAD Test in order to measure your insulin production and whether or not there are cells that are actually attacking your immune system.
Managing LADA is also a fairly new exercise, as most people are often diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 and given the appropriate course of medication and follow-up treatment to manage the disease.
Treatment for Type 1.5 diabetes however, can be varied. In many cases, someone that has been diagnosed with this type won’t even have to start taking insulin right away. Some patients have the ability to continue producing insulin for a prolonged period of time before they need insulin therapy.
Naturally, self-care is always advised as with Type 1 and 2. This means that patients who have been diagnosed, are supposed to maintain regular activity levels in order to keep a healthy weight and control their blood sugar, will make the necessary adjustment to their diets by avoiding refined carbs, and will periodically check their glucose levels and visit their diabetes specialist.