Tuesday, April 28, 2009

LADA - Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005 (about 4 years ago). At the time, I was losing weight at a rapid pace (I went from 230 to 200 lbs in a few months), and I was drinking lots of water and up several times during the night using the restroom. My wife set me up with a physical and they quickly diagnosed that I was diabetic. Because I was 25, they assumed it was type-2 diabetes. Type-2 is defined as the kind of diabetes where your body is producing sufficient levels of insulin, but your cells have become resistant to the insulin and therefore you cannot use the sugar in the blood effectively. Type-2 diabetes is usually a self-induced form of diabetes, occurring in people who are overweight and not taking care of themselves physically. With some changes in diet and lifestyle, I was able to get my sugars under control for the first few years, so we thought everything was good.

Well, in the last six months, my sugars have continued to slowly rise. My endocrinologist here in Austin has told me since I started seeing him that he was suspicious that I was not type-2, but actually a slow-progressing type-1. This didn't make much sense to me since everything you read says that type-1 diabetics must immediately go on insulin. Type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder whereby your body attacks your pancreas and kills your body's ability to make insulin. So, type-1 works different from type-2, though both cause higher-than-normal blood sugars. The body has to have insulin in order to process sugar, so without insulin, sugars get dangerously high and will eventually cause life-threatening complications.

So, back to my weird story. My blood work shows that I am still making some insulin (so I'm not a pure type-1 (yet)), but it also shows that the antibody is present that demonstrates that my immune system is attacking my pancreas. Oral medications are not helpful to me at this point, and the endocrinologist has recommended some periodic insulin at meal-times if I need help lowering my sugars. This whole situation has been very confusing for us, but we are finally getting some answers. It is our understanding that researchers are now saying that the type-1, type-2 classifications are actually missing another form of diabetes called LADA - latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood. This form of diabetes manifests itself as type-2, but is actually an adult-onset, slow-progressing form of type-1 diabetes. The description we've read of LADA sounds like it fits me perfectly.

Check out this article from John Hopkins that describes the difference between LADA and type-2 diabetes.

I go again this Thursday to see my new endocrinologist (the previous one just moved to Temple to work with Scott and White Hospital system), so pray for more clarity and wisdom on how to handle this thing moving forward. I'm on a really strict diet right now that is helping me to keep my sugars low and is also causing some more weight loss. I weighed in last week at 163 pounds. I feel healthier, but it is a hard diet to stay disciplined on. Thanks for everyone's prayers ans support.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Sounds like you are understanding it better. Let us know what the new endocrinologist has to say on Thursday. Love you!
Love, Mom