Type 1.5 Diabetes - Symptoms & Treatment
Metabolic Health

Type 1.5 Diabetes: Everything You Need to Know

The latest statistics show that in 2021 almost 537 million adults between the ages of 20 years and 79 years were living with some type of diabetes. While Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are relatively common terms that most of us recognise, Type 1.5 diabetes is a relatively new concept that has left most individuals puzzled. 

So what is Type 1.5 diabetes? How do you identify it? What is the treatment recommended for someone diagnosed with this kind of diabetes? We will answer these and many more common questions in the following article. 

What is Type 1.5 Diabetes?

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in adults (LADA), more commonly known as Type 1.5 diabetes, usually displays similar attributes to both Type 1 and Type 2 variants of the disorder. It is typically seen in adults diagnosed with diabetes after the age of 35 years. Type 1.5 diabetes is hereditary like the Type 1 variety, but it usually sets in slowly and is diagnosed in adulthood, similar to Type 2 diabetes. However, unlike Type 2, this variety of the disorder cannot be reversed with a change in the individual’s diet and way of life. In most cases, the beta cells also stop functioning more rapidly than when an individual is living with Type 2 diabetes. Those diagnosed with Type 1.5 diabetes account for 2 to 10% of all individuals diagnosed with the disorder. 

Causes of Type 1.5 Diabetes

The leading cause of Type 1.5 diabetes is the development of antibodies against essential components required for pancreatic functioning, including pancreatic cells, insulin, and other enzymes. This influences the way an affected individual's body responds to blood sugar. Many experts are of the opinion that Type 1.5 diabetes may share genetic features with the other two kinds, which is why it shows so many similarities to the forms. 

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Symptoms of Type 1.5 Diabetes

One of the broadest appearing symptoms of LADA Type 1.5 diabetes is high blood sugar levels and ketoacidosis, which causes a distinctive sweet fruity odour on the affected individuals breath. Ketoacidosis occurs because the body is not equipped to use the sugars available as fuel, and thus start burning fat, producing ketones. Other symptoms that appear may be common with those of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. 

This includes 

  • Excessive thirst 
  • Heightened hunger
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Delayed healing of cuts and bruises
  • Blurry vision
  • Decrease in weight despite increased appetite 
  • Numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet

Diagnosis of Type 1.5 Diabetes 

The test for diabetes is usually the same as that for other types of diabetes. 

  • Fasting plasma glucose test is conducted after a fasting period of no less than 8 hours. 
  • An oral glucose tolerance test is conducted twice, once after 8 hours of fasting and the second 2 hours after consuming a beverage high in glucose. 
  • Lastly, a random plasma glucose test without considering the last time the individual had a meal. 

More times than not, Type 1.5 diabetes is diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes, making controlling the symptoms difficult. Individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes but who live active lifestyles and are within a healthy weight range may actually have Type 1.5 diabetes. An individual diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes should also consider the possibility of having Type 1.5 diabetes if they are unable to control the symptoms of diabetes with traditional medicines. 

Treatment of Type 1.5 Diabetes

Like all other factors, the treatment of Type 1.5 diabetes also lies somewhere between the treatment approaches for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. While the individual may eventually need to supplement with insulin, this is not needed till a later stage of the treatment. 

As the onset of Type 1.5 diabetes is gradual, the person diagnosed with this kind of diabetes can rely on the oral medication prescribed for those with Type 2 diabetes. Metformin for Type 1.5 diabetes is said to work until the point when the individual’s pancreas stops producing insulin. It is believed that individuals afflicted with this disorder may have to rely on insulin within 5 years of the initial diagnosis due to the slowing down of insulin production. 

The type of insulin, insulin regime and the dose of insulin required will vary from individual to individual, and such individuals should undergo frequent blood sugar tests to avoid a drastic increase or decrease in blood sugar levels. 

The main objective of diabetes treatment is to preserve pancreatic function so that the use of insulin is limited. With personalised treatment strategies, an effective plan can be made to control the effects of the illness.

Living with Type 1.5 Diabetes

The life expectancy of an individual with LADA Type 1.5 diabetes is similar to that of other kinds of the disorder. Higher blood sugar levels that remain over a long period of time can result in other health complications, namely, neuropathy, eye disorders, cardiovascular issues, and kidney disorders. 

Initially, the life expectancy of an individual with Type 1 diabetes was said to be slightly lower than normal. However, with the improvements in medical technology and medicines, it is now possible for anyone diagnosed with diabetes to live a normal life with good control over their blood sugar levels.

Is Prevention of Type 1.5 Diabetes Possible?

Similar to Type 1 diabetes, Type 1.5 or LADA is caused by genetics that play a significant role in the progression of the condition. This is why there is currently no sure way of preventing the illness. However, with increased care and the correct diagnosis, it can be possible to avoid any drastic complications resulting from Type 1.5 diabetes. 

Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle can also help reduce the number of complications faced while living with Type 1.5 diabetes. The best diet for Type 1.5 diabetes is one that is high in fibre, has a low glycemic index and includes foods that are anti-inflammatory and high in nutrition. A gluten-free diet has also been shown to have a protective effect on the body.

Bottomline

Type 1.5 diabetes, also known as L.A.D.A. Many researchers state it as a subtype of type 1 diabetes, and some believe that diabetes occurs on a continuum, with L.A.D.A. falling between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. L.A.D.A. usually occurs at the age of over 30. This blog aims at providing the reader with all the basic knowledge required to understand LADA or Type 1.5 diabetes. The origins, cause, symptoms, and treatment of the disorder are all addressed in the article, making it easier for an individual diagnosed with Type 1.5 diabetes or who has a loved one affected by it to be aware of the actions needed for them to live daily lives. Also read about Diabetes in india

FAQs

1. Is type 1.5 diabetes hereditary

Genetic factors play a huge role in the onset of diabetes, no matter the type. Heredity plays a role in the progression of this condition and it would be important to get an early diagnosis or use preventative methods if you have people in your family who have been diagnosed with diabetes. 

2. What is the best diet for type 1.5 diabetes?

As with any other form of diabetes, food options that are low in carbohydrates and higher in fiber content and protein would be a good option for type 1.5 diabetes. This would help to keep the overall blood sugar levels under control naturally.  

3. Is metformin good for type 1.5 diabetes?

Metformin is a medication used to control the symptoms of high blood sugar. Often, it is prescribed with a proper diet regime and a good exercise routine. It helps to manage the symptoms of high blood sugar levels even in type 1.5 diabetes. 

4. How fast does LADA progress? 

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is known to be a slow-progressing type of diabetes. The cause is the same as any other form of diabetes – the pancreas not being able to produce adequate levels of insulin. On average, it is said that it would take up to 5 or 6 years to become insulin dependent with this form of diabetes.

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