If you haven’t gotten type 1 diabetes by a certain age, does this mean you’ll never get this autoimmune disease, that you’re just too old to develop it?
“Typically type 1 diabetes is diagnosed before the age of 35, but that doesn’t mean that older adults can’t get type 1 diabetes,” says Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with over 10 years of experience in various community and clinical settings.
“There is a type of diabetes called LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes) that is an autoimmune type of diabetes (like type 1), and these patients take insulin to manage their diabetes,” continues Massey.
“The onset of LADA is much slower than a typical type 1 diabetes diagnosis and often misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Some patients older than 35 develop LADA.”
According to Diabetes UK, 20 percent of people who are diagnosed with type 1 are over 40.
The National Diabetes Audit analyzed data based on 8,952 people between 2011 and 2012 who were diagnosed with type 1.
More than 500 of these patients were older than 69. “Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age,” says Diabetes UK, though this disease is most commonly diagnosed in kids between 10 and 14.
The symptoms of feeling tired and fatigue may be attributed to old age, which is why there’s sometimes a late diagnosis.
So if a person is elderly and suffering these symptoms or unexplained weight loss (another diabetes symptom), they should never think, “Oh, it can’t possibly be type 1 diabetes; I’m too old.”
Of course, they should get checked for ANY type of diabetes, as type 2 can strike at any age as well.
“It is never too late for diabetic ketoacidosis,” says Dr. Triveni Shekaraiah, the lead researcher for the NDA study.