We often talk about three forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. But there is another type of diabetes called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), which can be baffling. Many adults are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and later find out it’s LADA because their blood glucose doesn’t respond to type 2 medications. In fact, six to ten percent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes actually have LADA and need insulin at some point–usually within six years of diagnosis.

A recent study looked at combining insulin plus a type 2 medication called a DPP-IV inhibitor, and found that this appeared to prolong the function of beta cells in the pancreas. Since beta cells are responsible for producing insulin, this means that people with LADA could possibly make their own insulin longer and more of it.

If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and you don’t see a difference in your blood glucose levels with your current treatment (medications, etc.), talk to your health care provider about checking to see if you have LADA. You will need to have a couple blood tests drawn: c-peptide determines how much insulin your body is making. In type 2 diabetes the c-peptide level is often high because the body is working overtime to produce insulin. In LADA c-peptide can be normal to low normal (in type 1 diabetes the c-peptide is usually below normal).

You would also have a blood test to detect antibodies. If you have positive antibodies again islet cells or antibodies called GAD (glutamic acid decarboxylase), this shows an autoimmune process happening in your body, which means that you have LADA and not type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to know which type of diabetes you have in order to most effectively manage it and live well!

To learn more about Jane’s work or her new book, "People With Diabetes Can Eat Anything: It’s All About Balance," read her interview with DiabetesCare.net.