Table of Contents

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA)

What is latent autoimmune diabetes in adults?

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is a rare and slow-progressing form of autoimmune diabetes. It occurs when the pancreas cannot create enough insulin. Medical professionals disagree over its categorization, with some wanting to label it as a subtype of type 1 diabetes, while others believe it is its own distinct condition. 

What are the symptoms of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults?

Symptoms may not be noticeable at first, but as time passes they can include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased urination, particularly at night
  • Increased thirst
  • Tingling nerves

A possible complication of this condition is diabetic ketoacidosis, in which the body begins to burn fat rather than sugar due to the lack of insulin. The result is ketones, which are toxic and can accumulate. 

What causes latent autoimmune diabetes in adults?

This condition occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. This may happen if antibodies attack the pancreas, specifically pancreatic beta cells. Genetic factors may also play a role in LADA, such as a family history of autoimmune conditions. 

How is latent autoimmune diabetes in adults diagnosed?

This condition is often misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes, as it typically appears later in life. Those over the age of 40 are most commonly impacted. In many cases, doctors do not correctly diagnose LADA until treatment for type 2 diabetes is unsuccessful. To help distinguish the two forms of diabetes, doctors should remember that LADA patients tend not to be obese, cannot manage their diabetes with lifestyle changes or oral medications, and are over the age of 30. 

To correctly diagnose this condition, doctors may use a variety of tests, such as an oral glucose tolerance test, random plasma glucose test, blood test, and fasting plasma glucose test. 

What are the treatments for latent autoimmune diabetes in adults?

Insulin is always needed at some point during LADA treatment. For most, it is necessary within the first five years of being diagnosed. Insulin treatment should be tailored to fit each patient, and frequent monitoring is important. 

Where can I find out more about latent autoimmune diabetes in adults?

LADA Articles