FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Teen superstar Nick Jonas
may be the picture of health today, but five years ago his body was
wasting away. Even at 13, Jonas knew something was wrong. He just
didn't know what.
That something was type 1 diabetes, and though it's a disease
Jonas will have for the rest of his life, he's healthy now because
he spends a lot of time every day taking care of his diabetes.
"It was obviously a devastating thing to find out that I had diabetes, but it was also kind of a relief to find out that it was something that could be managed, and that I'd be all right as long as I stayed on top of it and did what I could to keep it in control," said Jonas, who's now 18.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to come on very quickly,
noted Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center
at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. They typically
Type 1 diabetes is often confused with the more common type 2
diabetes. But, the cause and management of each disease is
different. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the
body's immune system mistakenly identifies the insulin-producing
cells in the pancreas as foreign and destroys them. Insulin is a
hormone that allows the body to process carbohydrates, including
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body stops using insulin
effectively. It can sometimes be controlled with diet and exercise.
Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, must be treated with injected
The problem with insulin therapy, however, is that it's
difficult to achieve the right balance. Too little insulin causes
high blood sugar, and excess insulin can cause dangerously low
"Before insulin, type 1 diabetes was a catastrophe," Zonszein said. "Now, with insulin and newer technology, we know how to better treat these patients so they can live long lives without complications. But, a lot of the outcome depends on the patient. They have to be engaged and proactive with the disease."
Jonas has proven to be a great example of how an "intelligent,
informed person can overcome and manage type 1 diabetes well with
the tools we have nowadays," Zonszein said. "Someone without his
personality might have more trouble managing his lifestyle -- and
its stress, traveling, sleep changes, etcetera. He deserves a lot
of credit for managing so well."
Jonas spoke recently to a crowd of fans, many with type 1
diabetes themselves, at the Diabetes Research Institute's Carnival
for a Cure in New York City. Jonas, who was at the event as a
spokesman for Bayer Diabetes Care, told his fans that he had
promised himself that he wouldn't let diabetes slow him down.
And, it would seem he's kept that promise. Since his diagnosis,
the Jonas Brothers band (Nick and his brothers Joe and Kevin) has
released three albums, toured nearly constantly and starred in two
seasons of a self-titled TV show. Last year, Jonas released his own
album and toured with his band, Nick Jonas and the Administration,
for several months.
To maintain this hectic pace, Jonas said he thinks about his
blood sugar levels all the time and tests his blood sugar about 12
times a day. He has a blood sugar meter that allows him to easily
upload his readings to his doctor so that even if he's on the road
touring, he can get feedback on his diabetes management.
Jonas said that having diabetes hasn't been all bad. "It's been
a part of my life that has turned out to be a blessing in some
ways," he said. "I've been able to speak about it and hopefully
bring a message of encouragement."
Still, he added, "I'd be lying if I told you that there weren't
days that I wasn't frustrated with being a diabetic. It's
definitely not something you ask for. There are moments when I
think life would be a lot easier without it. But, then again, it's
part of my DNA at this point, and it's given me an outlook on life
that I think is very rare. When I was diagnosed, if we had waited
two days, I could've been in a coma. A week later, and I could've
died, so I'm very thankful that I've lived to see all of this."
Jonas' best advice for someone who's newly diagnosed? "No matter
how independent a person you are, never be afraid to rely on your
doctors and the people around you -- your family and friends," he
said. "I wouldn't have been able to do all of this without the
support of the people around me."
The Diabetes Research Institute has more about
type 1 diabetes.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.