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  • 21Jul

    What is Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA)?

    Most people are familiar with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. However, a lesser known variation of this chronic disease, called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) encompasses a fair number of diabetes diagnoses. This condition shares characteristics with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and is sometimes referred to as Type 1.5.

    LADA is found in roughly 10-25% of individuals around the world diagnosed with diabetes, depending on their age, who do not initially need insulin to manage blood glucose levels. In fact, LADA is believed to be more prevalent than Type 1 diabetes.

    What are the Symptoms of LADA?

    Understanding the symptoms of LADA and diagnosing the condition early may help prevent serious health complications associated with diabetes.

    dia2Early signs of LADA include:

    • The inability to focus and lack of mental clarity
    • Feeling hungry soon after eating
    • Consistent fatigue or feeling tired after meals

    When LADA advances, the symptoms that are commonly reported include:

    • Feeling thirsty more often with a thirst that is hard to quench
    • Blurred vision
    • Urinating more frequently
    • Tingling nerves

    If your doctor suspects you have Type 2 diabetes, he or she may look for a combination of physical signs of LADA, which include:

    • Being thin or underweight
    • Blood pressure and cholesterol levels within a healthy range
    • Family medical history of autoimmune disease
    • High blood sugar levels despite healthy lifestyle habits

    Who is at Risk of Developing LADA?

    Late autoimmune diabetes develops slowly. Therefore, it is typically diagnosed in individuals over the age of 30 to 35. One important risk factor for developing LADA is having a close relative who has been diagnosed with the condition.

    Can LADA be treated?

    In the initial stages, LADA may be managed through a change in diet, regular exercise, and medications used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Over time, however, individuals diagnosed with LADA lose the ability to produce insulin and eventually require insulin either through injections or through an insulin pump to manage blood glucose levels.

    Just as in Type 2 diabetes, as LADA progresses the amount of insulin needed to keep blood glucose levels within a designated range increases. For this reason, individuals who manage blood glucose through the use of an insulin pump may choose to use a large capacity insulin pump with smartphone styling. These pumps are equipped with the convenience of touchscreen technology and can carry up to 3 days of insulin delivery, depending on individual insulin needs, making blood glucose management more convenient.

    How is LADA Diagnosed?

    In order to distinguish LADA from Type 2 diabetes, a GAD antibody test is performed. GAD stands for Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase and is an enzyme essential for healthy pancreas function. The GAD antibody  test detects an antibody that makes the body destroy its own GAD cells.

    Currently, factors for distinguishing LADA from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the following:

    ●  The presence of GAD antibodies in the blood

    ●  An individual at or above the age of 30 at the time of symptom onset

    ●  Blood glucose levels that can be managed without insulin for the first six months after initial diagnosis

    Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in preventing further health complications. Additionally, it is important to properly diagnose LADA since the treatment methods for this condition are different from other types of diabetes. Improper treatment methods may result in poor management of blood glucose levels and may lead to further health complications.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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