What you need to know about type 1.5 diabetes

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In the complex world of diabetes, where Type 1 and Type 2 have long been the main categories, there emerges a lesser-known variant that blends characteristics of both.

This variant, often called Type 1.5 diabetes or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), presents a unique challenge in diagnosis and management.

Despite its nickname, Type 1.5 diabetes is not a midpoint between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes but rather a distinct condition that warrants closer attention.

This review aims to demystify Type 1.5 diabetes, shedding light on its definition, symptoms, and the latest research findings.

What is Type 1.5 Diabetes?

Type 1.5 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that shares similarities with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Like Type 1, it involves an autoimmune attack on the pancreas’s insulin-producing beta cells.

However, this attack progresses more slowly than in traditional Type 1 diabetes, often leading to a later onset, typically in adulthood—hence the “Latent” in its name.

From Type 2 diabetes, it borrows the initial appearance later in life and the potential for lifestyle factors to influence its development and management, although the autoimmune component marks a clear distinction.

Symptoms: A Cloaked Presentation

The symptoms of Type 1.5 diabetes can be insidious, gradually developing over months or even years. Initially, they may mimic those of Type 2 diabetes, including increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue.

However, the progression towards insulin dependence typically occurs more rapidly than in Type 2 diabetes, often leading to confusion and misdiagnosis.

The subtlety and variability of these symptoms underscore the importance of vigilant monitoring and testing for those at risk.

Research Evidence and Insights

The quest to understand Type 1.5 diabetes has unveiled crucial insights. Studies have highlighted the role of autoantibodies—immune proteins that mistakenly attack the body’s own cells—in diagnosing the condition.

Testing for these autoantibodies can help differentiate Type 1.5 diabetes from Type 2, guiding more appropriate treatment strategies.

Research has also focused on genetic and environmental factors that may predispose individuals to Type 1.5 diabetes.

While certain genes have been linked to an increased risk, the exact triggers of the autoimmune response remain under investigation.

Lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity, appear to play a less significant role in the development of Type 1.5 diabetes compared to Type 2, but they are crucial in managing blood sugar levels and overall health post-diagnosis.

Navigating Diagnosis and Management

The journey to a correct diagnosis of Type 1.5 diabetes can be fraught with challenges, often involving a misclassification as Type 2 diabetes initially.

This misdiagnosis can lead to ineffective treatment plans, as the oral medications typically used for Type 2 diabetes may not suffice for someone with Type 1.5 diabetes, who will eventually require insulin therapy.

Management strategies for Type 1.5 diabetes are evolving, with a focus on monitoring blood glucose levels, administering insulin as needed, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to mitigate complications.

The development of targeted therapies remains a priority in research, aiming to preserve beta-cell function for as long as possible.


Type 1.5 diabetes stands at the crossroads of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, embodying characteristics of both but remaining a distinct entity.

Its gradual onset and autoimmune nature pose unique challenges in diagnosis and management, highlighting the need for increased awareness and research.

As our understanding of Type 1.5 diabetes grows, so too will our ability to provide effective care for those living with this hidden hybrid form of diabetes, illuminating a path to better health outcomes and quality of life.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes, and what you need to know about avocado and type 2 diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about how to eat to prevent type 2 diabetes, and 5 vitamins that may prevent complication in diabetes.

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