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What is Type 1.5 Diabetes, Symptoms, Treatment?


Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are two main types of diabetes, but what if I tell you that there’s actually another type of diabetes?

Type 1.5 Diabetes, also known as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), is a type of type 1 diabetes and it’s an auto-immune disease that develops slowly over time.

This form of diabetes has many symptoms similar to type 2 diabetes and it’s often misdiagnosed as the latter, since they share many similarities including symptoms and way of onset.

Learn more about Type 1.5 Diabetes in this article!

Below we’ll explain everything about type 1.5 diabetes, including its symptoms, causes, testing and treatments.

What is Type 1.5 Diabetes

 Diabetics are diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabete,  however, there is a rare form of diabetes called type 1.5, which has characteristics of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes… but what exactly is it? 

Type 1.5 diabetes occurs when a person with type 2 diabetes develops ketoacidosis for whatever reason (most commonly pancreatitis).

Ketoacidosis is caused by a lack of insulin in combination with high blood glucose levels which results in toxic ketone production and severe dehydration.

Most cases of type 1.2 diabetes involve some level of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) at their onset.

While most people who develop DKA have type 2 diabetes, DKA can also occur in those with latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA) who present later in life due to an inability to produce enough insulin.

As DKA presents very similarly to T1DM, diagnosis can be difficult if doctors are not aware that LADA patients can develop T1DM over time.

Symptoms of Type 1.5 Diabetes

Type 1.5 diabetes symptoms  are similar to those of other forms of diabetes,  excessive thirst and frequent urination are common, as are weight loss and fatigue.

Symptoms also include blurry vision and tingling in hands or feet indications that poor blood flow can lead to nerve damage in addition to kidney damage.

If left untreated, type 1.5 diabetes can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis  (DKA).

Symptoms of DKA include fruity breath odor, fatigue and vomiting, among others.

A person with DKA will also feel excessively drowsy; they may even slip into a coma.

Severe cases of diabetics are at risk for infections or complications related to poorly controlled blood sugar levels like heart disease or stroke though if caught early enough, these complications can be averted. 

Treatment Options for Type 1.5 Diabetes

At present, there are three forms of treatment that people with type 1.5 diabetes can take: 

1. Insulin pumps,

2. Regular injections 

3. And other medications to boost glucose levels. 

It’s important to work closely with your health care team when making decisions about your type 1.5 diabetes treatment plan, as no one form of therapy works for every patient.

Also remember that lifestyle changes are equally if not more important in preventing a range of complications associated with type 1.5 diabetes.

These may include nutrition, exercise and stress management techniques like yoga or meditation.

Ask your doctor if these options are right for you and help keep type 1.5 diabetes under control!  

The prognosis for someone with type 1.5 diabetes varies depending on how he/she manages his/her condition.

If you want to learn how to live well with type 1.5 diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider about managing your diet and getting regular physical activity.

Type 1.5 Diabetes Causes 

Someone who has type 1.5 diabetes produces a limited amount of insulin or cannot produce any at all.

In type 2 diabetes, however, that amount decreases as well—usually to a point where it can no longer regulate glucose levels adequately in the blood and balance them with other substances such as fatty acids and amino acids.

Because of this imbalance, blood sugar rises to dangerously high levels over time; if left untreated for an extended period of time (or even from day one), it can be life-threatening.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, there are often many warning signs that occur before someone gets diagnosed with type 2: unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination.

 According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), type 1.5 is caused by inflammation and stress on cells lining small blood vessels that feed organs, muscles, bones and skin.

When these cells become stressed from things like extreme smoking, dieting, steroids or infections like HIV/AIDS  they fail to produce enough insulin to do their job effectively. 

This then causes low levels of insulin in the bloodstream at all times, which makes it more difficult for glucose to enter cells and convert into energy, therefore making sugars build up in your blood instead.

AACE believes that 6% of Americans living with diabetes have type 1.5, compared to 90% who have classic diabetes—and doctors often miss its warning signs because there isn’t a simple test for it yet.

Another reason why managing your diet and regular exercise habits are important as you get older!

Type 1.5 Diabetes Diagnosis 

Unlike most other forms of diabetes (Type 2), type 1.5 diabetes isn’t a disease of insulin resistance, instead, it’s a condition in which your immune system attacks cells in your pancreas that produce insulin (the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels).

This results in little or no insulin production in affected individuals, without sufficient insulin, glucose stays in your bloodstream rather than traveling into cells where it can be used for energy.

The overall result is high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

In some cases, people with type 1.5 diabetes are able to produce enough insulin on their own to avoid life-threatening complications from untreated hyperglycemia. 

However, most will eventually need to manage their disease through diet and exercise and possibly even daily injections of synthetic insulin.

If you have type 1.5 diabetes, you may also suffer chronic hypoglycemia because your body cannot store excess glucose as glycogen in liver and muscle tissue due to lack of functional beta cells.

The Process of Getting a LADA Diagnosis

 In many cases, people with LADA are misdiagnosed at first because their insulin levels appear to be in normal range and/or they don’t show any signs of diabetes like thirst or frequent urination.

This can lead to unnecessary blood glucose testing and other invasive procedures that aren’t appropriate for those with LADA because their condition requires a more watchful waiting approach until blood sugar levels become symptomatic enough to warrant intervention. 

Furthermore, there isn’t even an official set of criteria used by doctors to diagnose type 1.5 diabetes (LADA).

Some physicians will immediately diagnose patients based on one marker (such as autoantibodies), while others use several markers before making a diagnosis.

Type 1.5 Diabetes Prevention 

Many cases of type 1 diabetes are preventable through lifestyle changes such as exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

And many people who have type 2 diabetes can slow or stop its progression by making some simple tweaks to their diet and exercise habits.

Because you’re more likely to develop type 1 diabetes if your family has a history of it, be sure to keep tabs on your risk factors (including how much you weigh) with your doctor so that you can make changes before it’s too late.

There are also certain medications known to reduce inflammation in diabetes, including pioglitazone and sulfonylureas.

Some research suggests that vitamin D deficiency might increase your risk for developing type 1 diabetes.

Although there isn’t enough evidence yet to support taking supplements at prevention levels, most doctors recommend keeping vitamin D levels at 50–70 ng/ml year-round.

In Conclusion

Type 1.5 diabetes has a lot of other names: latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), type 2 diabetes in children and young adults, atypical diabetes and double diabetes.

But what they all have in common is that it’s a slow onset form of type 2 diabetes often misdiagnosed as type 1 or gestational diabetes because there are little to no symptoms until complications begin to appear.

By that time, it may be too late for patients to make lifestyle changes like losing weight and reducing stress levels.

That’s why it’s important for people who have been diagnosed with type 1.5 diabetes or those who think they might be living with it to work closely with their doctors so they can make positive changes before their condition gets out of control.

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