Adults Being Diagnosed With Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes
Doctors said late-onset of type one diabetes in adults can
occur in people of normal weight who have no family history of the disease.
When an adult is diagnosed with diabetes, it's assumed to be
type two, but some adults may actually have type one diabetes instead, the type
that's usually only diagnosed in kids.
Eleven years ago, 65-year-old Shelley Malter was diagnosed with diabetes. She
was diagnosed with type one diabetes, which is typically diagnosed in kids.
"Although type one is primarily a childhood disease and used to be called
juvenile diabetes, the fact is, we're seeing it in an older population," said
Gerald Bernstein, M.D.
Bernstein said adults with type two diabetes have plenty of natural insulin, but
it doesn’t work efficiently. Obesity is often a factor. Treatment involves diet
and exercise and pills to control blood sugar.
However, type one, or juvenile diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where the body
attacks and destroys its own insulin-making cells.
"In many people, if they have type two diabetes long enough, they will
eventually go to insulin because that's part of the natural history, but that
could take 20 or 30 years," said Bernstein.
"If an individual has Type one diabetes, from the time their
blood sugar first goes up, they will have the full manifestation of insulin
requirements within two or three years at the longest."
Malter was giving herself insulin injections a lot sooner than that. "Probably
within a couple of days, I was on insulin," recalled Malter.
Doctors said late-onset of type one diabetes in adults can occur in people of
normal weight who have no family history of the disease. They advise people with
symptoms of thirst, fatigue, frequent urination and unexplained weight loss to
check with their doctor.
Blood tests are available for adult late-onset type one diabetes, but they're
expensive and many insurance companies don't cover them.
Source: Diabetes In Control.com.
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