7 Things To Keep In Mind When A Diabetes Patient Is Drinking Alcohol


Kicking back, with a glass of rum, or even a couple of glasses might seem like a tempting idea during the winter months. But when living with diabetes, it is important to understand the impact of alcohol on your body, and your blood sugar levels and to drink with caution. 

The best bet for your health would be to give up completely on alcohol. But if you’d prefer to have a drink or two here and there, here are some pointers to keep in mind. 

Check for Medicine Interaction

Depending on what and how much you drink, alcohol can impact your glucose levels. Certain diabetes medication can also affect your glucose levels. When these effects are combined, there are higher risks for hypoglycemia, which could become a medical emergency. 

Know That it Could Affect Your Liver Function

When you’re drinking alcohol, your liver is also involved in processing it. The main function of the liver is to store glucose in the form of glycogen. But when you drink alcohol, it also functions to remove unprocessed glucose from your blood. This can lead to low blood glucose as well. So if you’re liver function is already compromised, know your limits before drinking. 

Remember to Do the Math

Before you start drinking, make sure to do a bit of mental math – figure out what you can drink and how it’ll affect your blood sugar levels. For example, a pint of beer or a medium glass of wine may not affect your blood sugar. But if you have more amounts of alcoholic drinks, your blood sugar will rise.

Since alcohol disrupts glucose processing in the body, you will soon experience a drop in blood sugar as well. So it is important that diabetes patients prepare ahead of time, and adjust your insulin levels and food intake accordingly. 

Spoon full of sugar and insulin

Account For The Change in Insulin 

Everything that happens within the body when drinking alcohol can disrupt insulin levels. But if you’ve been living for long enough with diabetes, you’d know how to adjust your food intake and insulin medication to accommodate this problem. Depending on what and how much you’re drinking, you’ll have to eat more carbohydrates and/or reduce your insulin units. 

The Need to Test Glucose While Drinking

Whether you are drinking or not, routine self-tracking is the best way to observe and regulate your vital levels. When you do decide to drink, glucometers can be extremely helpful in keeping an eye on your glucose levels.

Start by checking your glucose levels earlier in the day, and eating sufficient carbohydrates to keep it steady. In case you feel weak after drinking, ask someone to check your blood glucose levels and ensure it is within the safe limits. 

Hypoglycemia and Drunkeness Look Similar

The usual symptoms for drunken behaviour such as excessive sweating, confused speech, disorientation and stumbling, even acting aggressive and passing out, can also be caused by hypoglycemia. Since alcohol can raise your blood glucose levels and then have it plummet, there is a risk for hypoglycemia for up to 16+ hours after drinking. 

The only way to keep track and prevent such a scenario is by monitoring your blood glucose closely. Entrust a friend or loved one when you are drinking, and ask them to help keep you and your blood glucose in check. 

Be Wary Of Other Potential Dangers

In addition to the impact that alcohol has on your blood sugar, it can also impact your blood pressure and can add calories to your intake. Over some time, consuming alcohol can easily make you gain weight. Alcohol consumption can even affect your nerves and lead to pains and numbness. 

Summing Up…

While being diabetic doesn’t have to end your relationship with alcohol, make sure to only indulge in it, once in a while. Keep a handle on your blood glucose level at all times, and ensure that you pace yourself while drinking. There are several low-carbohydrate and low alcohol drinks that may assist you in doing this. 

But even these need to be consumed in moderation, as they can quickly impact your glucose levels. Entrust a friend or loved one to keep an eye on you, and make sure that you don’t go overboard and wreck your disease management. 

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