Alcohol Use and People with Diabetes
Alcohol and diabetes
Alcohol consumption can lower blood sugar levels to the point of hypoglycemia (low
blood sugar), causing significant symptoms. A person with diabetes should keep careful
track of his or her blood sugar levels when drinking alcohol. This is because certain
diabetes medicines, including insulin, also lower blood glucose levels. If blood glucose levels
are too low, or if the stomach is empty, alcohol consumption should be avoided.
The symptoms for alcohol intoxication and hypoglycemia are similar. Symptoms may include
fatigue, disorientation, and dizziness. To make sure that a person with diabetes receives
proper medical care for hypoglycemia, he or she should carry a card, wear an identification
bracelet, or wear a necklace indicating that he or she has diabetes.
Alcohol sometimes can also cause blood glucose levels to rise, due to the carbohydrates
in certain drinks. Consuming alcohol while eating, or right before eating, can cause
blood sugar levels to rise. This may be dangerous to the individual. People with diabetes
should monitor their blood sugar closely before and after drinking alcohol.
If you are using carbohydrate counting for adjusting insulin doses, do not count the
alcohol as grams of carbohydrate.
If you want to drink alcohol, check with your healthcare provider to see if it is
safe for you. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can also explain how to fit alcohol
into your diet plan. In addition to the above concerns, alcohol interacts with a number
of medicines. If you already drink, it is important to be honest about the frequency
and amount of your alcohol use when talking to your healthcare provider.
Be sure not to drive for several hours after you drink alcohol.