Latent Autoimmune Diabetes: What It Is and What to Do About It

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Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is a special type of diabetes that’s sparking a lot of debate in the medical community. Due to its symptoms, most experts classify it as type 1 diabetes. But because it occurs later in life, many often compare it to type 2 diabetes. The general consensus is that LADA falls somewhere in between, hence the name type 1.5 diabetes.

What Is Type 1.5 Diabetes?

As its name suggests, latent autoimmune diabetes in adults first develops at an older age. Patients usually get their diagnosis after the age of 30. And much like type 1 diabetes, the causes of LADA have nothing to do with the patients’ lifestyle habits. On the contrary, it’s a consequence of the body’s resistance to insulin.

But unlike type 1 diabetes, the pancreas in LADA patients don’t stop producing insulin early in life. Moreover, it doesn’t stop at once, but instead does so progressively over time. That’s why some doctors often mistake LADA for type 2 diabetes.

The symptoms of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults are the same as with other types of this disease. They include elevated blood sugar levels and all the problems that come with it. These usually involve fatigue, weight loss, blurred vision, and increased thirst.

Treatment Options

Because doctors haven’t yet found common ground on LADA, there are also no specific treatment options for it. As a rule, keeping your blood glucose levels in check is the first step towards recovery. Other lifestyle changes will usually follow, including diets, weight loss, and some type of diabetes medication.

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At first, you won’t need insulin shots, as your body can still produce insulin on its own. But this will change as the disease progresses and your insulin supplies decrease. Also, as with any type of diabetes, you need to track your symptoms at all times.

With latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, you’ll sometimes get a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Yet there are ways to tell if this is not the case. For example, if you’re fit and engage in regular physical activity, or if you can lose weight easily, as these are usually not common in type 2 patients. Also, if type 2 treatment worsens your symptoms, tell your doctor about it so they can adjust your therapy.

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