Most people want to enjoy an alcoholic drink every once in a while. However, when one is diagnosed with diabetes there is a lot to consider and cautious about when drinking alcohol that can impact blood sugar levels can cause serious diabetes-related complications.
Is it safe to drink alcohol if you have diabetes?
Short answer, yes. For those with diabetes, having that drink is generally safe, however it’s important to educate yourself on the physiological effects alcohol can have on the body.
The following article will cover the effects of alcohol on diabetes and tips you can follow to drinking responsibly.
How drinking alcohol affects blood sugar
The liver plays a key role in managing blood glucose levels in the body as it converts glycogen (a form of stored glucose) into glucose that is slowly released into the bloodstream throughout the day.
Due to the increase in blood sugar levels caused by the liver is why those with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin every day in order to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
When we consume alcohol, the livers ability to release glucose is affected. While the liver is busy processing the alcohol consumed, the release of glucose is almost halted.
For those with diabetes, this can become dangerous since the combination of insulin medication and a drop in blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes complications such as hypoglycemia.
Furthermore, if you’ve just had a meal, alcohol can slow down digestion. The insulin you may have taken prior to a meal has not taken effect and your food still hasn’t been broken down into glucose.
For this reason, drinking alcohol can come with serious consequences for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially if you are on diabetes medications such as insulin.
Hypoglycemia caused by Alcohol Consumption
Hypoglycemia (or hypo for short) is caused when blood sugar (glucose) levels are lower than normal.
Since glucose is the body’s main source of energy, this drop in blood sugar, can begin to show up as symptoms such as drowsiness, mental confusion, shakiness, sweating, hunger, slurred speech, irritability or more serious complications such as unconsciousness or seizures if levels are dangerously low.
Diabetics should be aware of the possible side effects related to alcohol-induced hypoglycemia, be mindful of how much alcohol being consumed and take the necessary precautions prior ingesting alcohol.
Have a glucagon kit readily available
Your doctor may suggest getting an emergency glucagon kit in the event of severe hypoglycemia.