Whenever the body gets sick or experiences pain, it relies on the immune system to defend it against bacteria and disease. For people who have immune disorders, however, the immune system often responds in the wrong way. It can, for example, attack the healthy parts of the body in a mistaken attempt to treat conditions and illnesses.
According to the National Library of Medicine, there are around 80 types of immune disorders, including Addison's disease, dermatomyostis, Grave's disease, multiple sclerosis, and more. Type 1 diabetes is also a form of autoimmune disorder. Like diabetes, autoimmune disorders do not have a cure. The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and control the autoimmune process, rather than finding a single cause and eliminating it.
Immune Disorders and Diabetes
Although Type 1 diabetes is a definite form of autoimmune disorder, there is recent evidence that suggests Type 2 diabetes could also be an immune disorder. Research at Stanford University has found that the antibodies that attack pancreatic cells could actually be used to restore blood sugar levels to normal. Because insulin resistance arises when the pancreatic cells and other immune cells react against the body's tissues, using the antibody - called rituximab - could potentially be used to create new medicine for people with Type 2 diabetes.
Others, however, believe there is another form of diabetes with characteristics similar to Type 1, yet tends to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. Known vaguely as Type 1.5, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults (LADA) is mostly limited to adults whose condition is strongly tied to hereditary disorders. It can also be interpreted as a slowly-progressing variety of Type 1 diabetes, and is often misdiagnosed as Type 2. The reason Type 2 is a misdiagnosis is because auto-antibodies remain present and there is only some insulin resistance - Type 2 diabetes is defined by its opposition to insulin.
Does it Matter?
Some experts say it makes no difference whether someone has LADA or Type 2 diabetes, and that patients should not be tested separately for it. Since there's no difference in treatment or prognosis, doctors feel the tests can be a waste of time and resources.
However, testing for LADA can allow doctors to further tailor treatments to individual cases of LADA once more research has been solidified. Some tests have shown that early insulin treatment can may keep pancreatic cells continue making insulin. It may also create a platform for developing new types of therapy for diabetes other than insulin.
No matter whether you have Type 1, 2, or LADA forms of diabetes, good diabetic care should always extend from healthy eating, active living, and regular check-ups with doctors and nutritionists. As immune disorders, no form of diabetes can be cured yet, but it can be easily treated and managed to achieve a normal lifestyle.