Diabetes Alcohol

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Can diabetics drink alcohol? Limit if have a health problem that alcohol can make worse, such as nerve damage or hypertension, otherwise no problem.

Can people with diabetes drink alcohol?

Before deciding to drink alcohol, ask yourself three basic questions:

  • Is diabetes under your control?
  • Do you have health problems that alcohol can make worse, such as diabetic nerve damage or high blood pressure?
  • Do you know how drinking alcohol can affect your diabetes?

When you drink alcohol, it moves quickly into the bloodstream without metabolizing in your stomach. After five minutes of drinking, there is enough measurable alcohol in your bloodstream. Alcohol is metabolizing by the liver, and normally it takes approximately two hours to metabolize one drink.

Alcohol drinking can cause your blood glucose to drop. Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which lead you to overeat and thus affects your diabetes control. If your blood glucose is well under control, then an occasional moderate amount of alcohol drinking may be ok with before, during or soon after a meal.

Effect of Alcohol in People with Diabetes

The effect of alcohol on your blood-glucose levels depends upon various factors such as alcohol type, quantity you consume, your diabetes-type, medication or insulin-type you are taking, your blood pressure, and your blood cholesterol.

Alcohol has a significant number of calories and may cause weight gain, thus you may like to limit its intake.

Drinking alcohol can lead to nerve damage in your arms and legs, diabetes eye problems, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol (specifically high level of triglycerides). Alcohol can lead to organ damage such as the liver, heart, pancreas and skin. Diabetes itself is more susceptible to organ damage and thus chooses to reduce your alcohol intake.

Even low quantity alcohol drinking can damage nerve cells; already diabetes itself leads to nerve damage thus a diabetes individual who drinks alcohol has increased chances of nerve damage leads to pain, numbness, tingling or burning sensation.  

Tips for diabetics, who prefer to drink alcohol

If you decide to consume alcohol, following are some useful tips:

  • Check your blood glucose before, during, and after you have alcohol. Alcohol can drop your blood glucose from 15 minutes to about 12 hours.
  • Only drink in moderation and should not have it in an empty stomach.
  • Avoid excessive uncontrolled drinking or continuous drinking, and never substitute alcohol for your meals. All of this can increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
  • Check your blood glucose before bedtime; if it is below 100 mg/dl, have a snack to avoid hypoglycemia in the midnight.
  • Each alcohol type will affect blood-glucose levels differently based upon the carbohydrate content it has. Beer can push glucose levels up if you have more than a single pint. Wines tend to have less carbohydrate than beer thus less effect on glucose levels. Spirits such as whiskey, vodka, rum and gin, have no significant carbs. Therefore, has no effect on glucose levels. However, if you have them in a mixer, this will need to take into account.
  • If you are on diabetes medications, then you need to practice caution. The action of insulin and some diabetes medications such as sulfonylureas and meglitinides (Prandin) can lower blood glucose by making more insulin. Thus, require to adjust the dose to prevent hypoglycemia.
  • The symptoms of too much alcohol and hypoglycemia looks similar, i.e. sleepiness, dizziness, and disorientation. Thus, learn to distinguish between hypoglycemia and alcoholic effect.

Caution during alcohol drinking

  • Never drink if your blood-glucose level is low or experiencing hypoglycemia symptoms.
  • Drinking alcohol in high quantities regularly can cause an increase in blood pressure and weight gain, thus do not do so.
  • Avoid drinking frequent large quantities of alcohol; it can aggravate neuropathy by increasing pain and numbness.

Each person will have a different reaction to alcoholic drinks, thus it is worth carryout blood tests to know how your body responding to it.

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