Adults Can Get Type 1 Diabetes, Too
David Lazarus had just moved to Los Angeles to start a new job as a business and consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times when he suddenly developed some of the classic signs of diabetes: extreme thirst, fatigue and weight loss. He dropped close to 15 pounds in two weeks.
Lazarus was in his early 40s. "The weight loss was the first big red flag. It happened really fast," he says. He consulted a physician, who diagnosed him with Type 2 diabetes and recommended a "monastic" low-carb, macrobiotic diet.
When he continued to feel lousy a few days later, Lazarus spoke with another physician. That doctor suggested that Lazarus might have Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition in which the insulin-making cells in the pancreas are attacked and destroyed. But that physician didn't take insurance.
Finally Lazarus made his way to the diabetes center at the University of California, Los Angeles. There, an endocrinologist diagnosed him with Type 1 diabetes and immediately put him on the correct treatment, insulin.
Without insulin injections or infusion via a pump, people with Type 1 diabetes typically fall into a coma and die within days to weeks, although sometimes adults may have a small amount of reserve insulin that keeps them going longer. Still, eventually all people with Type 1 diabetes must receive insulin.
Lazarus' story is not uncommon. It has long been thought that Type 1 diabetes arises primarily in childhood or adolescence and only rarely in adulthood. In fact, Type 1 diabetes was formerly called "juvenile" diabetes, and that term is still widely used, even though the Continue reading