7 Facts about Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | Jun 13th 2016

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Many people are have heard of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the two major forms of the disease. They’re less familiar with another type of diabetes called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) that has characteristics of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. According to a report by the American Diabetes Association, about 10 percent of adults thought to have Type 2 diabetes initially actually have LADA (Cernea et al., 2009). Here are the important facts to know.Save

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Latent Autoimmune Diabetes is not latent

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes Adult is a bit of misnomer in that it isn’t actually latent. Latent conditions are usually known to be present yet does not show itself right away. For LADA to be diagnosed (Dotta et. al, 2005), there needs to be evidence of an autoimmune-related cause.

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LADA mostly happens in middle adulthood

People diagnosed with LADA are usually over the age of 30 (Cernea et al., 2009). So it appears that most of the time the disorder happens in middle adulthood, though this isn’t always the case.

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LADA resembles both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

LADA is sometimes referred to as Type 1.5 diabetes due to its similarities to both disorders. Because their pancreas still produces some insulin initially, people with LADA are often misdiagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes. And like Type 2 diabetes, LADA can be managed with diet and exercise early on. But like Type 1 diabetes, insulin will eventually be needed.

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LADA can be difficult to detect

LADA is an autoimmune disease similar to Type 1 diabetes. However, there are no definitive recommendations for how to screen for LADA (Mayo Clinic, 2013). There are different markers and symptoms to consider, but this is one of the areas where more information is needed.

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LADA symptoms

Most cases of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults are diagnosed initially as Type 2 since patients often exhibit similar symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and high levels of sugar in the blood.

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LADA diagnosis

LADA is commonly confused with Type 2 diabetes in the beginning so patients typically undergo traditional glucose testing to get a diagnosis. Most of the time, LADA is only suspected after a patient starts to show little or no response to oral diabetes medications. Antibodies in the blood can also be an indicator of LADA.

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More research on treatment is needed

Treatment is another area where more research is needed. There’s currently no established management strategy for people who have LADA(Mayo Clinic, 2013). There is some research, though, that shows that giving small doses of insulin soon after diagnosis may be beneficial (Cernea et al., 2009). If you have been diagnosed with LADA, you need to follow up closely with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.