LADA is a kind of fusion between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is an autoimmune disorder but starts at middle age. For this reason, it is sometimes called 1.5 diabetes. Interestingly, the medical community is yet to define it fully. Understandably, you cannot find an official definition. However, clinicians have figured out certain features that help in the diagnosis and guide the treatment approaches.
Before we learn about the features of LADA, it is necessary to have a quick reminder of how an autoimmune disorder occurs.
An autoimmune disorder develops when your immune cells mistakenly attack healthy cells and tissues. The damaged cells cannot function as they should.
Type 1 diabetes is a typical example where the immune cells damage the insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas. As a result, you have no insulin in your blood and blood glucose levels rise. One of the key features is the presence of autoantibodies in the blood.
What are the Most Striking Features of 1.5 Diabetes?
#1. Most commonly, it occurs in the individuals over 30 years. Like in type 1 diabetics, the pancreas loses its ability to produce enough insulin. However, the rate of beta cell damage is quite slower. Thus, you may not need to inject insulin for months after the diagnosis.
#2. Some patients may test positive for antibodies, yet their pancreas is producing insulin.
#3. Because LADA occurs in the thirties, it is most likely to be confused with type 2 diabetes. However, compared to the latter type, the former condition is usually seen in younger patients who are lean.
#4. Most clinicians agree that the LADA patients should receive insulin therapy as early as possible. That way, their remaining beta cells may be preserved.
#5. Some clinicians argue that it is a subset of type 1 diabetes. While type 1 diabetes starts at a young age, LADA develops in the later years of life.
What You Should Do
The diagnosis of 1.5 diabetes is essentially an uphill task for even the most experienced clinicians. What further complicates the situation is the lack of an official definition.
Confused about your diabetic status? Here are some tips to follow.
- If the diagnosis shows type 2 diabetes, but your weight does not qualify for obesity or overweight, talk to your doctor about reconsidering the diagnosis.
- Follow the general guidelines for diet, weight loss, and exercise.