The Other Diabetes

Diabetes, Diabetes Type 1, Diabetes Type 2, Featured Article, Healthy Living
on March 1, 2012

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and are struggling to get your blood sugar under control, listen up: You may have a newly identified version of the disease, latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), also known as Type 1.5.

Type 1.5 has some characteristics of Type 1 and Type 2, says LADA expert Dr. Jerry P. Palmer, professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. And while experts aren’t sure how best to diagnose and treat it, the condition could explain why some diabetics have trouble managing their disease.

Like people with Type 2 diabetes, Type 1.5 diabetics are insulin resistant—their bodies don’t produce enough insulin or don’t use it correctly. People with Type 1.5 also have the same antibodies as those with Type 1, antibodies involved in the immune system’s attack on insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

There is no specific treatment for diabetes 1.5, although Palmer speculates that some will be developed in the next five years. Even still, if you have been diagnosed with Type 2 and standard lifestyle strategies and medications aren’t helping, ask your doctor about testing your antibody levels to see if you have 1.5 instead. “It might be beneficial to know that the reason your treatment hasn’t been successful is not because you aren’t trying,” says Palmer, “but because you have a more aggressive form of diabetes.”