It is my philosophy that the more you know about your own health, the better off you are. There are some key diagnostic criteria that can help you help your doctor to be sure you aren’t being treated as if you have Type 2 diabetes when you have Type 1.5, or LADA.
First of all, let’s be clear on what LADA is. Sometimes called Diabetes Type 1.5, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults is both similar and different from each of the other 2, most common, types of diabetes. In LADA the inability to properly metabolize glucose is due to slow destruction of the insulin-producing pancreatic cells called Beta cells. This destruction is the result of an autoimmune mechanism where the body is actually attacking itself. In this way it is similar to Type 1 diabetes where beta cells are destroyed, making it impossible for the pancreas to produce the insulin your body needs. In most cases, people with Type 1 diabetes are under the age of 35. But LADA often shows up at 30 or older, while Type 2 diabetes also is usually in an older population (even though we are starting to see Type 2 diabetes in kids as young as 8).
With Type 2 diabetes, insulin production is not the primary problem at the beginning of the disease, but insulin resistance is the big problem.
So how can we tell the difference between LADA and the other two types of diabetes? The main areas where this differentiation becomes clearer are:
- Age of onset
- C-peptide levels
- Autoimmune disease markers like ICA/GAD65/IA-2/IAA
- Insulin level trends
- Time between diagnosis and need for insulin injections
The table below has a summary of the main items that differentiate between the 3 types of diabetes.
If you suspect you might have LADA, see how many of the following questions you answer “yes” to –
- I was diagnosed after age 29
- I am not overweight
- My stimulated C-Peptide level is below 4 ng/mL
- I am positive for at least 1 autoimmune marker
- I received a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes
- I am taking insulin
Many people are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes that never have their C-peptide checked, or autoimmune markers. Because the autoimmune markers tend to be more expensive, the C-peptide level is one of the most important. You can actually get this checked yourself by using an online lab like www.directlabs.com.
With this information, you will be well prepared to have a discussion with your health care provider and make sure that you are getting the very best treatment for you particular condition.
For more information, see the reference below.
Link to: American Diabetes Association article