Latent Autoimmune Diabetes (LADA) is a type of diabetes that falls under the Type 1 category. Often referred to as "Type 1.5 Diabetes," LADA is a slow-progressing autoimmune disease that affects adults over 30 years of age. This condition is often misdiagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes, as it shares some similarities in terms of age of onset and symptoms. However, LADA is distinct from Type 2 Diabetes because the insulin resistance is caused by an autoimmune response, like Type 1 Diabetes.
It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of LADA to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment. Constant thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and blurry vision are some of the common symptoms of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in adults. While LADA is an autoimmune disorder, insulin resistance may still occur, requiring treatment plans to address both components. By understanding LADA, individuals can take the necessary steps to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
What is Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults?
Due to its late onset and early response to oral diabetic treatments, Latent Autoimmune Diabetic (LADA) is sometimes misdiagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes. LADA diagnosis is a form of Type 1 Diabetes that develops more slowly and affects adults over the age of 30.
LADA, or Type 1.5 diabetes is caused by a form of autoimmune diabetes in adults that damages insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to insulin deficiency. When the pancreas can't produce insulin, supplementary insulin treatment is necessary. LADA diagnosis may be linked to adults with a genetic predisposition to this form of an autoimmune reaction.
LADA develops more slowly than Type 1 Diabetes, symptoms may not be as noticeable or may be attributed to other factors, such as aging or lifestyle changes. A family history of diabetes symptoms or similar risk factors may lead to diabetes complications.
If LADA is not diagnosed and treated early, it can lead to complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney failure. Treatment for LADA typically involves lifestyle changes, oral medications, and insulin therapy as needed.
What Are the Symptoms of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes?
Autoimmune diabetes in adults can significantly impact daily living for individuals. This is because they may need to change a few lifestyle factors, like their diet, exercise, and medication to manage symptoms.
Since LADA is often misdiagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes, some patients may be prescribed the wrong medications or treatment plans, leading to further complications. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of LADA to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.
1. Frequent Thirst:
One of the most common symptoms of LADA is frequent thirst, also known as polydipsia. The body tries to flush out excess glucose through urine, leading to dehydration and thirst. As a result, individuals may feel the need to drink more fluids than usual. This can be easily confused with everyday thirst, making it crucial to monitor other symptoms as well.
2. Increased Urination Especially at Night:
A common symptom of LADA is increased urination, especially at night, or polyuria. High glucose levels in the blood lead to high glucose levels in the urine, causing the kidneys to work harder to filter it out. As a result, individuals may need to urinate more frequently, particularly during the night.
3. Unexplained Weight Loss:
As the body is unable to use glucose as fuel, it starts breaking down fats and muscle tissue for energy. This can lead to rapid weight loss despite maintaining a regular diet or even increased appetite.
4. Blurred Vision:
High glucose levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, leading to blurred vision or even blindness in severe cases. This symptom may be mild at first but can progress over time if left untreated.
Does LADA Diabetes Cause Insulin Resistance?
While LADA is an autoimmune disorder, insulin resistance may still occur. LADA is a heterogeneous subtype of diabetes that can be associated with both islet autoimmunity and insulin resistance. In some cases, insulin resistance can develop due to factors such as obesity or a genetic predisposition like a family history of diabetes.
Pancreatic beta cells are responsible for making and secreting insulin in response to glucose in the blood. The beta cell function has a tougher time producing enough insulin in people with type 2 diabetes. Some patients need to inject insulin to compensate for weak pancreatic cells.
What Causes Autoimmune Diabetes?
Autoimmune diabetes is an autoimmune disease form of diabetes that occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing pancreatic cells, resulting in an insulin deficiency that cannot control blood sugar levels.
This type of diabetes is primarily caused by a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors that trigger the immune system's response. Autoimmune diabetes is influenced by genetics, and certain genes that are involved in immune system function increase the risk of developing the condition.
Does Latent Autoimmune Diabetes Mainly Effect Adults?
Latent Autoimmune Diabetes (LADA) is a type of autoimmune diabetes that primarily affects adults over the age of 30. While LADA is less common than Type 1 Diabetes, it is estimated to account for approximately 10% of all cases of adult-onset diabetes.
Autoimmune diabetes in adults is distinct from both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, as it shares some characteristics of both conditions. Like Type 1 Diabetes, LADA is caused by an autoimmune response that damages insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. However, like Type 2 Diabetes, LADA usually develops slowly and is initially treated with lifestyle changes and oral medications before insulin therapy is required.
When Should I See a Doctor for LADA Diabetes?
LADA may be missed or delayed because it is often misdiagnosed as Type 2 Diabetes due to its slow onset and initial responsiveness to oral medications. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes. If you have a family history of high blood sugar or diabetes, are over the age of 30, and experience any of the symptoms associated with LADA, it is especially important to see a doctor for evaluation and diabetes care.
What Tests Help to Diagnose Diabetes?
• Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: This test measures blood sugar levels after an overnight fast. A result of 126 mg/dL or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes.
• Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: This test involves drinking a sugary solution and having blood sugar levels measured at several intervals afterward. A result of 200 mg/dL or higher two hours after drinking the solution indicates diabetes.
• Random Plasma Glucose Test: This test measures blood sugar levels at any time of day, regardless of when the person last ate. A result of 200 mg/dL or higher, along with symptoms of diabetes, indicates diabetes complications.
What is the Treatment For LADA?
Treatment for LADA typically involves lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, as well as taking oral diabetes medications to lower blood sugar levels. People with LADA may benefit from early insulin therapy to help preserve beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Losing weight may also show benefits.
Should People with LADA Monitor Their Blood Sugar Regularly?
People with LADA should monitor their blood sugar regularly to help prevent complications and adjust their diabetes care as needed. If the goal is to control blood sugar levels, people with LADA may benefit from continuous glucose monitoring devices, which provide real-time information about blood sugar levels.
What is it Like for People Living with Latent Autoimmune Diabetes?
Living with LADA can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. People with LADA may feel frustrated by the slow onset of symptoms and the difficulty of getting a diagnosis. Additionally, the social stigma associated with diabetes can be isolating, and the need for regular blood sugar monitoring and insulin therapy can be time-consuming and disruptive to daily life.
LADA is a form of Type 1 Diabetes that affects adults over the age of 30. People who experience symptoms such as chronic thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and blurry vision should see a doctor for evaluation.
Tests used to diagnose diabetes include the fasting plasma glucose test, oral glucose tolerance test, and random plasma glucose test. Treatment for LADA typically involves lifestyle changes, medications, and insulin therapy as needed. People with LADA should monitor their blood sugar regularly to help prevent complications and adjust their treatment as needed.
Living with LADA can be challenging, but with proper diagnosis, treatment, and support, people with the condition can lead full and healthy lives.