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Alcohol Use and People with Diabetes

Alcohol and diabetes

Drinking alcohol can lower blood sugar levels to the point of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), causing serious symptoms. Keep careful track of your blood sugar levels when drinking alcohol. This is because certain diabetes medicines, including insulin, also lower blood glucose levels. If blood glucose levels are too low, or if your stomach is empty, don't drink alcohol.

The symptoms for drunkenness and hypoglycemia are similar. Symptoms may include fatigue, disorientation, and dizziness. To make sure you get proper medical care for hypoglycemia, carry a card, wear an ID bracelet, or wear a necklace indicating that you have diabetes.

Alcohol sometimes can also cause blood glucose levels to rise. This is because of the carbohydrates in certain drinks. Drinking alcohol while eating, or right before eating, can cause blood sugar levels to rise. This may be dangerous. Monitor your blood sugar closely before and after drinking alcohol. 

If you are using carbohydrate counting to adjust insulin doses, don't count the alcohol as grams of carbohydrate.

If you want to drink alcohol, check with your healthcare provider to see if it is safe for you. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can also explain how to fit alcohol into your diet plan. And finally, alcohol interacts with a number of medicines. If you already drink, it is important to be honest about how often and how much you drink when talking with your healthcare provider.

Don't drive for several hours after you drink alcohol. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Anne Fetterman RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2018
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