The Dangers of Drinking Alcohol with Diabetes

This can be problematic for a person who needs to continually monitor their blood glucose level. Alcohol abuse may also contribute to even more unhealthy eating patterns, as a person may substitute alcohol for food, or eat more food to try and change their blood sugar levels. It’s important to remember that drinking on an empty stomach may cause low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.

How long does alcohol affect your blood sugar?

Drinking can affect your blood sugar for up to 12 hours. So test your blood sugar before going to bed. If it is in the 100 – 140 mg/dL range, you may be fine. If it is lower, eat a snack to raise it.

Hypoglycemia unawareness occurs when someone with diabetes has a drop in blood sugar but doesn’t recognize the symptoms. Symptoms of low blood sugar are very similar to symptoms of alcohol diabetes and alcohol intoxication. If you pass out, those around you may just think you are intoxicated. Carry a carbohydrate source, like glucose tablets, with you in case of a low blood sugar.


This happens when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or does not respond to insulin as it should. Your healthcare provider can best determine what’s right for you. But if you do drink, know that not all alcoholic beverages are created equal when it comes to diabetes. Liver fat makes liver cells more insulin resistant and can make your blood sugars higher over time. Alcohol impairs your liver’s ability to produce glucose, so be sure to know your blood glucose number before you drink an alcoholic beverage. It is a good idea to check with your doctor to see if drinking alcohol is safe for you. Ben G, Gnudi L, Maran A, Gigante A, Duner E, Lori E, Tiengo A, Avogaro A. Effects of chronic alcohol intake on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in subjects with type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.

  • But, you have to be careful and take certain safety measures.
  • This causes some people to mistake serious symptoms for drunkenness.
  • If levels seem safe, it’s still imperative to check your blood sugar after an alcoholic beverage to understand its impact.
  • Emphasize the fact that a hypo might look like you are drunk.
  • Some people should not drink at all, including women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, people under the age of 21 and people with certain health conditions.
  • A daily cocktail or two may improve blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity.

If you should pass out, those around you need to know that this is a medical emergency, and not just a sign of intoxication. Drinking is individualized and there’s no universal rule for how to do it safely when you live with diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and they can provide you with tips and tricks for how drink in a way that works for you. Too much drinking, on the other hand , can lead to higher blood sugar and A1C. Shelmet JJ, Reichard GA, Skutches CL, Hoeldtke RD, Owen OE, Boden G. Ethanol causes acute inhibition of carbohydrate, fat, and protein oxidation and insulin resistance.

Treatment Considerations for Co-Occurring Diabetes and Alcoholism

Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of many chronic conditions including diabetes. Everyday your liver works hard doing a number of different things, and one of those jobs is to produce glucose into your blood stream. So, for those of us with diabetes, we need to take medication or adjust our carbohydrate intake to account for this glucose production by the liver. If you are pregnant or underage, you should not drink any alcohol. Talk to your doctor if you have other medical conditions like liver or kidney disease, or if you are on any medications. Alcohol competes with your liver’s ability to make glucose when your blood sugar is low.

No difference in C-peptide levels existed, however, between drinking and nondrinking diabetics, indicating that chronic alcohol consumption did not alter the diabetics’ insulin production. A diabetic needs to control and watch their diet in an effort to maintain safe blood glucose levels. As a result, compulsive and excessive alcohol abuse, which is indicative of alcoholism, can have hazardous side effects that are heightened for diabetics. Here is expert advice on drinking alcohol with diabetes, plus up-to-date advice about how to fit alcohol into your healthy eating plan. Plus find out how many calories a margarita has, if a glass of wine will spike blood sugar, if a beer will derail your diabetes meal plan and more. From wine and spirits to beer and cocktails, our guide to drinking with diabetes tells you all you need to know about mixing alcohol and diabetes. It is important to check blood sugar and watch drinking habits.

The Alcohol and Diabetes Guide

The general rule of thumb for moderate drinking is one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks for men. More than three drinks for men can put you at risk of developing health complications. Chronic heavy drinking, which involves drinking heavily on a daily or otherwise frequent basis, can cause damage to the pancreas, kidneys, heart, and liver. Liver and kidney damage, in particular, can pose several serious diabetic health risks. If you’re having frequent trouble managing your blood sugar levels, you should consider if it’s safe for you to drink alcohol. This is why it’s especially important for your friends and family to know the risks of drinking alcohol with diabetes and the signs of low blood sugar.

  • Taskinen MR, Valimaki M, Nikkila EA, Kuusi T, Ehnholm C, Ylikahri R. High density lipoprotein subfractions and prostheparin plasma lipases in alcoholic men before and after ethanol withdrawal.
  • Craft beer sometimes contains double the alcohol & calories compared to light beer.
  • Among adults who drink alcohol regularly, they should talk with their doctors about the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.
  • ALWAYS consume alcohol with a meal or snack that contains carbohydrates.
  • Depending on the severity of someone’s alcohol use disorder or co-occurring disorders, they may choose to seek inpatient or an outpatient treatment.

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