Being diagnosed with the wrong type of diabetes is more common than you think, as a result of health professionals insufficient knowledge about diabetes. A wrong diabetes diagnose can have serious results for a persons health and well-being. Here we give you the most commons reasons, consequences and signs for misdiagnoses of diabetes.
By Hildegunn Fossheim
Being diagnosed with the wrong type of diabetes is probably more common than you think: more specifically people with diabetes type 1 being diagnosed as diabetes type 2. Since diabetes type 1 is often diagnosed at a young age while diabetes type 2 most commonly is diagnosed in adulthood, it’s easy for the doctor to diagnose an adult patient with diabetes type 2, only because of the age of the patient. Though there is a variation of type 1 that occurs during adulthood. It’s called LADA diabetes an stands for ” Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults “. No there is nothing called mercedes diabetes (hilarious, I know).
Consequences of misdiagnosis of diabetes
This is a matter of the heart for yours truly, as these patients often struggle as a consequence of improper treatment because health professionals often don’t have sufficient knowledge about diabetes. While diabetes type 2 is argued to be triggered by lifestyle – unhealthy diet and low activity -, diabetes type 1 is genetically innate. In most cases, lifestyle changes and traditional type of 2 medicines will have limited effect with LADA. In the beginning the disease might behave the same way as diabetes type 2, but in short time (anywhere from a few months to a few years) a person with type 1 will be insulin dependent. Lack of insulin for a type 1 will eventually mean that the person is unable to properly function, almost regardless of what kind of measures they take. As a result of constant failures to control their diabetes, a misdiagnosed person will most likely be struggling with a lot of shame and resentment due to a feeling incompetence. Misdiagnosis may therefore have serious results for the patient’s health and psyche, as different types of diabetes will require different approaches of treatment.
During my ten years as a diabetes nurse I have met many adult patients who have been “pre – diagnosed” with diabetes type 2, but that doesn’t fit the typically “pattern” for a type 2. It is a great relief for both parties when my patient is finally diagnosed correctly – with LADA – and thus can be given proper treatment. For a wrongly diagnosed LADA to start with insulin means they can finally have a real shot of managing their glucose levels and take back control over their life (to the extent it is possible to feel that one has “control” over their diabetes).
So what is the next step, if you think you have been diagnosed with the wrong type of diabetes?
If you have any doubt whether you have been diagnosed wrong with diabetes type 2, or you don’t feel like you fit the classic type 2 diabetes patterns, you can take several different blood tests at the doctor which will indicate autoimmune diabetes (type 1, here LADA).
Anti GAD says something about autoimmune antibodies. In most patients with LADA this test will be positive, and with that be a pretty safe LADA diagnosis.
C – peptide indicates your production of insulin. In patients with traditional diabetes type 2 the value of c-peptide will be either too high (insulin resistance) or normal. In patients with traditional diabetes type 1, the value of C- peptide will be low in the beginning and than the value will become zero as the production of insulin stops completely. In patients with LADA diagnosis the production of insulin will be somewhat low at the time of diagnosis, though it will take longer before the production of insulin ceases, than with the traditional type 1. A lower insulin production than what your body needs means that the patient needs insulin, and therefore should be treated with insulin – not exclusively traditional type 2 medications.
An advice for the road if you think that you may be among those who have LADA, is that you should book an appointment with your GP for assessment of the blood tests mentioned above.