Type 1.5 diabetes: LADA symptoms, treatment and how it differs from Type 1 and Type 2

Four million people across the UK are living with diabetes - but many of them could be struggling with an incorrect diagnosis.

By Rhona Shennan
Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 2:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 2:12 pm
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Individuals being treated for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes could potentially be living with a different form of diabetes, known as Type 1.5.

What is Type 1.5 diabetes?

You may know about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but there’s another form of the condition that falls somewhere in the middle.

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According to Diabetes UK, “bits of it are more like Type 1, and other bits are more like Type 2”.

Type 1.5 is not an official term for the condition - it’s actually called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood, or LADA. It’s a form of Type 1 diabetes that develops later in adulthood.

Due to its similarities to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, it can mean that people get an incorrect diagnosis and incorrect treatment methods.

What are the symptoms?

Diabetes UK says that the symptoms of LADA are much the same as Type 1 and Type 2:

- Passing urine a lot

- Feeling very thirsty

- Getting really tired

- Losing weight

As well as these symptoms, Diabetes.co.uk also outlines the following things to look out for:

- Foggy headedness

- Experiencing hunger soon after meals

- Blurred vision

- Tingling nerves

Difference between LADA and Type 1 and 2

The key thing about LADA is that the symptoms tend to come on much more slowly than they do with Type 1 and much more quickly than they do with Type 2.

Diagnosing LADA can be difficult, and lots of people are diagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes by mistake.

“There are some clues that can give rise to a clinical suspicion of LADA rather than Type 2 diabetes,” says Diabetes.co.uk.

These are:

- An absence of metabolic syndrome features such as obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels

- Uncontrolled hyperglycemia despite using oral agents

- Evidence of other autoimmune diseases (including Graves’ disease and Anaemia)

Also, if you have LADA, you’ll usually find antibodies in your blood that are generally found in people with Type 1 diabetes - you’ll be able to identify these using something called a GADA antibody test.

LADA is also usually diagnosed in people aged between 30 and 50 years old.

What is the treatment?

Diabetes UK says that “there isn’t a definite, agreed way of managing LADA yet”.

Usually, treatment will start with oral medications - often metformin - and then go on to insulin as the blood sugar levels start to go up.

Healthline says that insulin treatment is the optimal treatment for LADA.