What is LADA? (continued)
Short for Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, LADA is also known as Slow-Onset Type 1 Diabetes, Type 1.5 Diabetes, Late-Onset Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood, and even "double diabetes," since it has elements of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. LADA patients, however, are closer to type 1 patients because, just as I did, they will test positive for antibodies against insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
LADA is more common than classic childhood type 1 diabetes, and according to Dr. Zachary Bloomgarden, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, LADA is "essentially a form of type 1 diabetes presenting more slowly, and hence not requiring insulin therapy as early in the course of treatment."
Most LADA patients do go on to require insulin, and the key difference between LADA and type 1 diabetes, says endocrinologist, Dr. Mariela Glandt, is not the age of disease onset, but rather the progression of the disease. People with type 1 diabetes tend to be completely insulin dependent within a few months after diagnosis, while people with LADA can sometimes survive for years without needing to take insulin.
Because they still produce some insulin, and because the disease usually occurs in people over the age of 30 without severe symptoms, many LADA patients are initially misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In fact, the NIH (National Institutes for Health) says researchers estimate that as many as 10 percent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have LADA. LADA can be distinguished from type 2 diabetes by antibody tests. Patients who are antibody positive have an autoimmune reaction similar to that of type 1 diabetes which is not found in type 2 diabetes.
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