What Is Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults?

May 17,2017

Some medical experts today believe that LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) is actually a form of Type 1 diabetes that progresses more slowly than the traditional form of the disease. Most Type 1 diabetes is identified during childhood (juvenile diabetes) or before age 30. Since the symptoms of LADA are similar to Type 2 diabetes, it is estimated that up to 10% of the adults in the United States with high risk factors for Type 2 may have been misdiagnosed. LADA symptoms often mimic Type 2 and may include excessive thirst, excessive urination, blurred vision, a family history of diabetes and/or obesity.

The concept of latent autoimmune diabetes mellitus was not distinguished in medical journals until the earlier 1990s and researchers are still delving into the true nature of LADA. With a slower course of onset occurring in adulthood, some experts are calling it slow-motion Type 1 while others have deemed LADA to be Type 1.5 diabetes. Signs that you might have LADA instead of Type 2 diabetes include having a history of autoimmune disease, rising blood sugar levels that don't respond as well to diabetes medications, or having a healthy weight, blood pressure readings and cholesterol levels.

Traditional blood glucose tests are useful for determining diabetes but will not identify whether you have LADA. The only accurate way to diagnose LADA is through blood tests that measure islet-cell antibodies. In contrast to Type 2, LADA sufferers have low to moderate levels of C-peptide present as the disease progresses while those with insulin resistance diabetes are more likely to have higher levels due to the overproduction and underutilization of naturally-occurring insulin. Although everyone can benefit from a healthy diet and exercise, these lifestyle issues are very important for diabetics with LADA.

Like Type 1 diabetes, LADA occurs because the pancreas stops producing an adequate supply of insulin. So, people with LADA will usually require insulin therapy at some point. However, they may also respond well to a variety of new oral medications used to manage blood glucose levels. As with any type of diabetes, the best ways to get your health under control is to speak with your physician about monitoring, treating and managing your specific condition. If you were previously diagnosed Type 2, or have symptoms of diabetes, schedule an appointment at either PrimeMED location to protect your health and wellness.