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Nick Jonas Lives Large, Despite Diabetes

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

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 include:

  • Extreme thirst.
  • A need to urinate frequently.
  • Weight loss, often dramatic.
  • Mood swings or irritability.

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 sugar.

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 insulin.

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 blood sugar.

"Before insulin, type 1 diabetes was a ca

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