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Type 1.5 Diabetes

Type 1.5 Diabetes
A form of diabetes sometimes called “double diabetes,” in which an adult has aspects of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Causes and Development
Type 1.5 diabetes has virtually the same underlying cause as type 1. The difference is that type 1.5 happens in people older than 25, whereas type 1 happens in childhood, the teen years and young adulthood. People as old as 80 have been diagnosed with type 1.5.

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A misdiagnosis is easy to make when the patient is older and responds well at first to treatment with oral medications. If someone does not clearly fit the model for Type 1 diabetes, they may be mistakenly placed on oral agents even though limited capacity for insulin production remains. The immune system's slower and more selective attack on the beta cells allows these cells to function to a high degree for a few years. On average, insulin is required in half of those with Type 1.5 diabetes within four years of diagnosis, compared to over ten years in those with true Type 2.

Type 1.5 diabetes causes the pancreas to stop making insulin at a much slower rate than in Type 1 diabetes, but faster than in Type 2. This loss in the long term ability to make insulin results from the immune system attacking the cells that make insulin. However, this damage takes place over time and can result in an undiagnosed case of Type 1.5 diabetes. In addition, the long term damage to the pancreas may initially allow the body to produce adequate amounts of insulin during the earlier stages of Type 1.5 diabetes. This may result in a positive reaction to Type 2 diabetes medication. If there is a suspicion of Type 1.5 diabetes, your physician may check your blood with a c-peptide test to obtain a reading of insulin levels. The c-peptide test helps differentiate between Type 1.5 and Type 2 diabetes.

Adults with Type 1.5 diabetes commonly have a normal build and are within normal weight ranges. In addition, there is no family history of relatives with Type 2 diabetes. This is significant because Type 2 diabetes is linked to heredity and common among overweight and obese adults. If you are not overweight and have normal levels of good cholesterol in your body and normal blood pressure, speak with your doctor to help make the right diagnosis and identify the right treatment.

Type 1.5 diabetes commonly affects adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Because of the adult onset of diabetes, patients may be initially diagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes. This is because Type 1.5 is very similar to Type 1 diabetes, which normally develops in patients under the age of 25. Misdiagnosed patients of Type 1.5 may respond well to Type 2 medications and a healthy regimen of exercise and eating habits.
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