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Can Diabetics Drink Alcohol?

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The answer in short – for most with diabetes, alcohol can be consumed if desired. But in another two words - with caution.

Sometimes alcohol can clash with diabetes pills (sulfonylureas and meglitinides/Pradin) and insulin. These meds work to lower your blood sugar by producing more insulin. So if your blood sugar is lowered this could produce complications if you drink.

This is because alcohol can cause hypoglycemia either right after drinking or even up to 8 – 12 hours after drinking, reports the American Diabetes Association (ADA). What can be done to ensure safety then? Remember to always check your blood sugar before you drink and eat. If not before eating, then definitely check your levels during. Later on, before going to sleep, check it once more. Safe levels are between 100 and 140 mg/dL. The ADA advises when blood sugar drops below these levels, it is best to eat something to raise it.

Sometimes, hypoglycemia occurs in your sleep. What then? Are your clothes/sheets damp due to perspiration? Did you have a bad dream? When you finally woke up, did you feel tired, irritable or confused? Check your blood sugar. If it’s low, please eat something to raise it.

Why is hypoglycemia dangerous? Hypoglycemia is dangerous because its symptoms (shakiness, dizziness, clumsiness, difficulty speaking/slurred speech, double vision, and confusion) and too much alcohol are similar. It can be life-threatening if someone confused your medical state for drunkenness. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to convulsions, seizures, and unconsciousness and in extreme cases, death. What can you do so the proper help may reach you? A very good idea would be to always wear a medical I.D. that states what your medical condition is.

A Few Tips and Guidelines

Talk to your health care team and inquire as to whether alcohol is safe for you.

If you choose to drink, drink in moderation and always with food.

For women, moderate drinking is one or fewer alcoholic beverages a day (i.e., 12 oz. beer or 5 oz. glass of wine or 1 ½ oz. of distilled spirits such as vodka, whiskey or gin).

Add a Comment2 Comments

Thank you, Dita, for this informative article. I think it's important for people living with Diabetes to realize that they don't have to completely remove everything out of their diets but do so responsibly.

Your article will come in handy for those living with Diabetes, thanks again.

February 11, 2010 - 2:10pm
(reply to Rosa Cabrera RN)

Oh, you're welcome...

February 11, 2010 - 2:25pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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