10 Facts About Latent Autoimmune Diabetes

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, or LADA, has long been classified as simply “the other diabetes.”

Typically misdiagnosed as Type 2 because of its late age of onset, LADA is actually a slowly progressing variation of Type 1 diabetes. But what else do you need to know about this form of diabetes? Well, we’ll tell you:

  1. LADA appears to be a hybrid form of diabetes, sharing symptoms with both major types. Despite developing in adulthood like Type 2 diabetes, LADA is characterized by an inability to produce insulin, similar to Type 1.
  2. As the name suggests, it’s an autoimmune disease. The primary difference between Types 1 and 2 is the existence of antibodies that attack the body’s ability to produce insulin. Patients with LADA do show presence of these antibodies.
  3. It’s more common than you think. Roughly 10 percent of adults with diabetes actually have LADA, making it even more widespread than Type 1. However, many of these patients were initially diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
  4. LADA is a controversial diagnosis in the diabetes community. Many people in the medical community do not distinguish it from Type 1 or compromise by labeling it “Type 1.5.”
  5. Patients diagnosed with LADA can often experience a longer "honeymoon" period, the period during which the body can continue to produce insulin without the aid of medication. For some, this can go on for up to six months.
  6. In this particular instance, a misdiagnosis is not harmful. The most important thing with any form of diabetes is managing your glucose levels, so whether you are diagnosed with Type 2 or LADA, the overall goal is the same.
  7. A diagnosis of LADA may not change your treatment plan. For very obese patients, the course of action for treating LADA is the same as that for Type 2 diabetes: diet, exercise and possibly medication.
  8. Future developments could make a proper diagnosis more valuable. A Japanese study in 2008 concluded that early insulin treatment may keep beta cells in the business of producing insulin for diabetics with LADA.
  9. Signs that you may have LADA include: normal weight and active lifestyle, under age 50, no family history of Type 2 diabetes, and requiring insulin because other glucose medication proves ineffective.
  10. A C-peptide test or GAD antibody test can determine if your Type 2 diabetes is actually LADA.

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