It seems like more and more people are receiving an autoimmune disease diagnosis these days.
Diseases like lupus, endometriosis, and latent autoimmune diabetes are just some of the conditions that are on the rise.
What causes autoimmune diseases to manifest? Can they be successfully treated? Is there any way to prevent these diseases?
What Is Latent Autoimmune Diabetes?
Latent autoimmune diabetes is a form of type 1 diabetes. This type of diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes.
This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system attacks the insulin because it views insulin as a foreign body.
The immune system is just trying to do its job – destroying things that cause illness and disease. However, in the case of autoimmune diseases, the immune system can’t distinguish between good and bad cells.
When the body attacks the insulin, it can’t do its job, which is to help glucose get into the cells so it can be used as energy. This causes the glucose to build up, resulting in higher than desired blood sugar levels, which can wreak havoc on a person’s health.
In some cases, latent autoimmune diabetes is diagnosed because the pancreas doesn’t make insulin or it makes exceptionally low levels of it.
This is typically what happens in children with type 1 diabetes, while adults’ immune system ends up attacking the insulin. Because the body is still producing some insulin, LADA is often first misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
Who Is At Risk for This Type of Diabetes?
Are children the only ones who are at risk for this disease?
Actually, both adults and children are at risk. Adult onset diabetes isn’t limited to type 2 diabetes. Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, or LADA, can be diagnosed when a person is over 25 years of age. About five to 10% of adult diabetes patients have LADA.
For that reason, LADA diabetes is also known as “slow onset type 1 diabetes.” Some people also refer to it as “diabetes type 1.5.”
Patients may have symptoms of type 2 adult onset diabetes – in addition to producing insulin – thereby resulting in a misdiagnosis. With proper testing, though, they can get the right diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Be Aware of the Signs of LADA: 5 Symptoms of Diabetes in Adults
In order to successfully treat a disease, you need to know whether you have it or not. And the best way to determine that – besides testing – is to watch for symptoms.
If you display any of the symptoms of diabetes in adults, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. LADA should be treated as soon as possible to prevent dangerous health interactions.
- Intense thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Irritability, mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme fatigue along with weakness
- Frequent infections, particularly skin and bladder infections
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Dry skin that’s often itchy, too.
How a Doctor Determines Whether You Have LADA Diabetes
The issue with basing a diagnosis simply on symptoms is that you can end up with a misdiagnosis. Many of LADA diabetes symptoms are similar to type 2 diabetes symptoms.
Therefore, it’s always best to have multiple tests done to determine whether a person has diabetes and if so, what type they have.
How do doctors check for the two types of adult onset diabetes?
The first test would be an A1C test, or a glycated hemoglobin test. It shows what your average blood sugar level is over a period of a couple months. It tests how much blood sugar is attached to the hemoglobin in your blood.
If this test isn’t available or the results are inconsistent, your doctor will recommend one or more of the following tests.
- Random blood sugar test
- Fasting blood sugar test
- Oral glucose tolerance test.
If the tests point to diabetes, a doctor will prescribe oral medications. LADA patients don’t respond to the medications, which is when their doctors realize they have LADA. To confirm the diagnosis, they’d either prescribe insulin and see how the patient responded or proceed with antibody testing.
How You Can Protect Your Health from Diabetes and Other Diseases
Though serious and potentially life-threatening, adult onset diabetes is one of those diseases that you have some control over.
With some lifestyle adjustments, you can either reduce your risk of getting diabetes or reducing the severity of it. Even if you develop the disease and need to be on medication for it, you can take steps to keep your symptoms of adult diabetes in check. This can result in needing lower or fewer doses of medication.
Hearing that you have an autoimmune disease can be scary. But don’t let your diagnosis overtake you. With many diseases – including diabetes – you have way more control than you might think. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to manage your disease so you can live a full, long, happy, and healthy life.