Understanding The Story Behind Type 1.5 Diabetes

The Story Behind Type 1.5 Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most well-known forms of diabetes. However, about 10% of people with diabetes have type 1.5 diabetes. Type 1.5 diabetes is also sometimes called LADA which stands for latent autoimmune diabetes in adults.

Type 1 diabetes (T1DM)usually occurs during childhood but can occur later in life. It is known as an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders occur when the body uses proteins to attack and destroy its own healthy cells. In T1DM the body uses proteins to attack and destroy the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This means patients will need insulin therapy because their pancreas no longer makes insulin. Oral medications are not used. Weight loss is a hallmark sign of T1DM and patients tend to be thinner.

Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) typically occurs in adulthood, but due to increasing rates of obesity, children can also get T2DM. In T2DM, the pancreas makes insulin but not enough of it and the cells in the body are less sensitive to it.  Diet and exercise helps your body use its insulin better. The drug of choice for T2DM is metformin. Some people may require insulin or other medications as well.

Where does type 1.5 diabetes fall into the diabetes spectrum? LADA is a slow progressing form of autoimmune diabetes, more like T1DM. It usually occurs in patients over 25, and has symptoms such as unusual thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss after some weight gain. It is often misdiagnosed as T2DM when the patient is overweight and oral medications are started. Oral medication fail quickly and insulin is required.  Where it is auto-immune, insulin is preferred.  Using medications that increase insulin secretion from the pancreas makes the pancreas fail faster than if treated with insulin instead. If LADA is suspected, antibody testing is recommended, and a test to measure insulin levels is done, similar to T1DM.

In order to control blood sugars in T1DM insulin is required. With type 1.5 (LADA), early insulin use is preferred. T2DM can be managed with oral medications, but injectables or insulin may be required over time. If you have any further questions please contact your healthcare provider today.

This Article is Brought to you By Our Guest Staff Writers:
Danny Patel, PharmDPharmDCandidate 2017, MCPHS University
Jacob Oleck, PharmD, Fellow‎, MCPHS University
Jennifer Goldman, PharmD, CDE, BC-ADM, FCCP‎, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, MCPHS University, Boston, MA
Clinical Pharmacist, Well Life, Peabody, MA

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