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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

What is LADA Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body uses sugar (glucose) for energy. Normally, your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that helps glucose enter your cells. But in diabetes, either your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or your cells don’t respond well to insulin, or both. This causes high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health problems.

There are different types of diabetes, and one of them is called LADA Diabetes. LADA stands for Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults. It is a type of diabetes that starts in adulthood and slowly gets worse over time.

LADA is similar to type 1 diabetes, which usually starts in childhood or young adulthood. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This causes a sudden and severe lack of insulin, and people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin shots every day to survive.

But LADA is different from type 1 diabetes in some ways. In LADA, the immune system also attacks the insulin-producing cells, but the process happens slowly, so people with LADA still make some insulin for a while. This means that they may not need to take insulin right away, and they may be able to control their blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and oral medications for some time.

LADA is also different from type 2 diabetes, which usually starts in adulthood and is more common than type 1 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes enough insulin, but the cells become resistant to it. This causes high blood sugar levels, which can be managed with lifestyle changes and oral medications. Sometimes, people with type 2 diabetes also need to take insulin shots.

But LADA is not the same as type 2 diabetes either. People with LADA have certain types of antibodies in their blood that show that their immune system is attacking their pancreas. People with type 2 diabetes do not have these antibodies. People with LADA also tend to be leaner and more physically active than people with type 2 diabetes.

LADA is sometimes called type 1.5 diabetes because it has features of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that about 10% of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes actually have LADA.

LADA usually affects people who are over 30 years old. Many people with LADA are first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by mistake, because they are older and still make some insulin. But over time, they may notice that their oral medications are not working well enough to keep their blood sugar levels under control. They may also lose weight without trying, or have other symptoms of high blood sugar such as thirst, hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, or infections.

If you think you might have LADA, you should talk to your doctor and get tested for autoantibodies in your blood. This can help confirm the diagnosis and guide the treatment plan. You should also monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and follow up with your doctor to check for any complications or changes in your condition.

LADA may be managed with lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, losing weight, making healthy diet choices, and quitting smoking. Medicine taken by mouth to lower blood sugar also may be part of a LADA treatment plan. But as the body slowly loses its ability to make insulin, most people with LADA eventually need insulin shots.

Taking care of your diabetes can help you prevent or delay serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, eye damage, or foot problems. You can live a long and healthy life with LADA if you work closely with your doctor and follow their advice.

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