Diabetes and Alcohol Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes
Talk about any medication that you are on, and if you are taking insulin, talk about how you should modify your dosages while drinking; they may want to lower your basal insulin. If you are intoxicated, you may not hear your CGM alarms or feel the usual symptoms of low blood sugar. Instead, you could potentially sleep through the low, increasing your risk of severe hypoglycemia, seizures, or death. Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol on a regular or daily basis is a primary sign of alcohol use. This can lead to dependence and addiction, which can cause a person to become unable to function normally without alcohol in their system. Both types are characterized by an inability to produce or regulate insulin in the body.
This can cause a host of symptoms, from thirst and frequent urination to slow-healing wounds and disorientation. This happens when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or does not respond to insulin as it should.
As you mull these ideas, keep in mind that much remains to be learned about how alcohol affects people with diabetes. Other conditions which can be exacerbated by alcohol intake are eye related problems. Alcohol intake reduces cognitive function, resulting in slow pupil movement and, gradually, weaker eye muscles. Over time, this can have a permanent effect on vision, resulting in blurry and poor eye sight. Don’t use dangerous equipment, or engage in activities that require coordination, concentration, or alertness. Don’t take a hot bath, hot tub or sauna because the heat combined with the alcohol may cause your blood pressure to drop too much. If you are striving to lose weight, limit your alcohol intake.
Low blood sugar can cause people to pass out, which is a medical emergency that can be misinterpreted as intoxication. How different types of alcohol affect your blood sugar and consider making changes to your insulin dosing before, during and after drinking alcohol. Always drink alcohol on a full stomach or eat while you are drinking. You may want to set an alarm for a few hours after you go to sleep to check your blood sugar in the middle of the night. After you drink alcohol, your blood sugar levels can drop up to 24 hours later.
Why alcohol increases your risk of hypoglycemia
Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Verywell Health’s content is for informational and educational purposes only. If you count carbohydrates as part of your meal plan, talk with your provider about how to account for alcohol. If you have diabetes complications, such as nerve, eye, or diabetes and alcohol kidney damage, your provider may recommend that you not drink any alcohol. Symptoms of low blood sugar are very similar to symptoms of 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.