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Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA)

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults is called LADA for short. It's a different form of diabetes.

What is LADA?

It's a type of diabetes which seems to straddle Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Bits of it are more like Type 1, and other bits are more like Type 2. That's why some people call it Type 1.5 diabetes or Type 1 ½ diabetes.

It’s not actually classified as a separate type of diabetes at the moment, but there's some medical research going on to try and pinpoint exactly what makes it different from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of LADA?

The symptoms of LADA are the same as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes:

  • passing urine a lot
  • feeling very thirsty
  • getting really tired
  • getting thinner.

But they generally come on much slower than they do with Type 1, over months rather than weeks. And the symptoms are more obvious and often come on more quickly than you’d expect with Type 2.

And whereas being overweight is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, people with LADA tend to have a healthy weight.

Diagnosing LADA

Diagnosing LADA can be difficult, and some people are diagnosed with having Type 2 diabetes by mistake.

If you have LADA, you'll usually have antibodies in your blood that are usually found in people with Type 1. These are found using something called a GADA antibody test.

It's usually diagnosed in people aged 30 to 50 years old.

Treating LADA

LADA straddles Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes with elements of both. You’ll usually start taking oral medication, usually metformin, and go on to insulin as your blood sugar levels start to go up. You tend to go on to insulin much quicker than you would normally if you had Type 2 diabetes.

But there isn’t a definite, agreed way of managing LADA yet.

Action LADA is looking at both how common LADA is and how best to look after it. Until this study shares its findings, most healthcare professionals agree that the aim of treatment is to keep insulin being produced for as long as possible. So it’s recommended that insulin treatment is started early.

The research is also looking at whether anything can be done to delay the need for insulin.

LADA isn’t recognised as a separate type of diabetes yet. So when it comes to treatment, the most important thing is to take whatever medication helps you manage your blood sugar levels properly. That will help keep you well in the short term and help avoid complications of diabetes in the future.

Remember you can always speak to your healthcare team, or join our online support forum to chat to other people with diabetes and ask questions.

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