Ah, Diabetes… Eternal thorn in my side and the “behind the scenes” silent partner that guarantees all the things I MUST do in my daily routine in order to survive. Type-1 Diabetes has been around for a very long time, from its “humble” discovery in the late 1800’s by doctors who recognized the condition developing after removing the pancreas, to the ancient Egyptians mentioning something pretty close to sounding like Diabetes almost 3,000 years ago.
For those who may not be in the know (and who have never read my blog before), Diabetes occurs when one’s own immune system attacks the body’s insulin-producing beta cells created by the pancreas. Depending on when you were diagnosed, T1D may have been referred to as “child’s” Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes. The latter was the term I spent my childhood hearing, since the majority of Type-1’s are often diagnosed as children. So, this raises the question as to whether one can contract this specific type of Diabetes later on in life, such as during adulthood…
The short answer is yes. Although we know that Type-1 is linked to the body’s immune system attacking the beta cells, doctors aren’t entirely certain WHY it happens. Some research suggests that it can have genetic components, and researchers are also of the opinion that it could be triggered by outside components like diet or a pre-existing medical condition. That last one is certainly the case for my father who, in his 60’s, developed Type-1 Diabetes. And before everyone chimes in, no, he didn’t have Type-2 prior to this. But he has been diagnosed with a number of medical conditions, including Degenerative Spine.
The challenge with a diagnosis of Type-1 in adults is that most people (and most doctors as well) tend to assume that an adult actually has Type-2. This can be difficult and confusing, since both types will often have matching symptoms. Although the weight component is the x-factor between the two types, you can easily find Type-1’s who will have weight issues and Type-2’s who don’t. The tricky part is figuring out if your Diabetes is caused by your immune system or your inability to absorb insulin properly.
A sub-type of Diabetes, sometimes referred to as Type-1.5, is referred to as LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults). As defined on a web page posted by the Mayo Clinic, “Latent autoimmune Diabetes in adults (LADA) is a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Diabetes. Like the autoimmune disease type 1 Diabetes, LADA occurs because your pancreas stops producing adequate insulin, most likely from some “insult” that slowly damages the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.”
LADA pretty much embodies the issue I described earlier, where a diagnosis of Type-2 may happen because someone with LADA will still continue to produce insulin for months, maybe even years before insulin therapy will be required. Here’s the Mayo Clinic article, which provides further information; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/expert-answers/lada-diabetes/faq-20057880
The bottom line is simply this: if you find yourself experiencing excessive thirst, frequent urination, constant fatigue and moodiness as well as fluctuating weight, you should get yourself tested for Diabetes. And if you suspect that a diagnosis of Type-2 may not quite fit, don’t be afraid to consider that you may actually have contracted Type-1 and get a second opinion, if necessary. After all, Type-1 isn’t just diagnosed in children, anymore. ☯