Connection Between Alcohol and Diabetes

Even a little alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to rise.

Although some diabetics are able to drink moderate amounts of alcohol occasionally without devastating their glucose levels, many cannot drink any alcohol at all. Besides the danger of having their blood sugar level rise, it is also possible that alcohol can cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels.

Effects of Alcohol

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol can worsen diabetic nerve damage or high blood pressure. People with type 2 diabetes should have their blood sugar levels stabilized and under control before drinking. It is also important for diabetics to understand how alcohol can affect their diabetes. Alcohol goes directly into the bloodstream instead of going through the digestive system. The liver then metabolizes it, which takes about two hours for most people. Low blood sugar may occur because the liver needs to remove the alcohol from the blood rather than regulating blood sugar in your body.

Guidelines for Alcohol Consumption

One of the dangers of hypoglycemia is that it can be mistaken for drunkenness. Both of these conditions have similar effects, which include dizziness,
disorientation and sleepiness. The American Diabetes Association suggests that adult women consume no more than one alcoholic drink per day, and men should have no more than two drinks per day. In some people, any amount of alcohol can cause a dangerous reaction in the body.

Diabetics should always eat food if they consume alcohol. When you eat as you drink, the food causes the alcohol to be absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream. You should also check your blood sugar level before you drink, after drinking and before going to bed if you have had a drink earlier in the evening. Keep glucose tablets or another form of sugar on hand if you drink at a friend's house, a restaurant or a bar. This way, if you do experience hypoglycemia, you will have glucose with you to raise your blood sugar level quickly.

Ask Your Doctor

Diabetes is a very unique disease that affects each person in a different way. For this reason, it is best to check with your doctor to see if alcohol is
safe for you or if it could worsen your condition. Your doctor can evaluate all of the factors that affect your health and advise you on the safety of drinking. For many diabetics, it is just not worth the risk to drink alcohol.

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