Alcohol Use and People with Diabetes
Alcohol and diabetes
Drinking alcohol can lower blood sugar levels to the point of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), causing
serious symptoms. Keep careful track of your blood sugar (glucose) levels when drinking
alcohol. This is important because some diabetes medicines, including insulin, also
lower blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels are too low, or if your stomach is
empty, don't drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol can weaken your body's ability to recover
from low blood sugar episodes. It may also decrease your ability to see and respond
to symptoms of low blood sugar. People with type 1 diabetes are at particular risk
of low blood sugar if they binge-drink.
The symptoms for drunkenness and low blood sugar are similar. Symptoms may include
severe tiredness (fatigue), mental confusion, and dizziness. To make sure you get
the correct medical care for hypoglycemia, always carry a card, wear an ID bracelet,
or wear a necklace that says you have diabetes.
Alcohol sometimes can also cause blood sugar levels to rise. This is because of the
carbohydrates in certain drinks. Drinking alcohol while eating, or right before eating,
can cause blood sugar levels to rise. This may be dangerous. Watch your blood sugar
closely before and after drinking alcohol.
If you are using carbohydrate counting to adjust insulin doses, don't count the alcohol
as grams of carbohydrate.
Check with your healthcare provider to see if drinking alcohol is safe for you. This
will depend on many things, such as your age, other health conditions, and the number
and type of medicines you take. Your provider or dietitian can also tell you how to
fit alcohol into your diet. If you already drink, be honest with your provider. Tell
them how often and how much you drink.
Don't drive for a few hours after you drink alcohol.