Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) or Type 1.5 Diabetes
Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), also called “Type 1.5 diabetes,” is a condition that shares characteristics with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diagnosed during adulthood, LADA sets in gradually like type 2 diabetes. LADA occurs because your body produces antibodies that cause the immune system to attack the insulin-making cells of your pancreas. As the pancreas loses its ability to produce insulin, your body can no longer control blood sugar levels. Unlike type 1 diabetes, LADA symptoms worsen gradually and may not require treatment for many months or years after diagnosis.
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What Are the Symptoms of LADA?
In general, symptoms of LADA are similar to those of type 1 or 2 diabetes and include the following:
- Frequent thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurry vision
- Loss of weight even when appetite goes up
- Frequent infections
- Weakness and fatigue
- Dry, itchy skin
- Tingling in your hands or feet
Diagnosis of LADA
LADA typically starts in people older than 30. Doctors sometimes initially mistake the condition for type 2 diabetes. Physicians may begin to suspect LADA if there is a lack of glycemic optimization with oral diabetes medications.
LADA can only be diagnosed through a blood test that looks for antibodies against the insulin-making cells of the pancreas. Your physician may also check for levels of a protein called C-peptide, which helps assess who much insulin your body is making.
How is LADA Treated?
Initially, individuals may be able to manage LADA with orally taken diabetes medications and changes in diet and lifestyle. However, since LADA gradually reduces the insulin-making cells of your pancreas over time, individuals eventually depend on insulin for glycemic management, typically within five years of their diagnosis.
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