Diabetes management includes keeping your blood sugar level within a healthy range. Alcohol can affect your body shortly after you consume it and for the next eight to 12 hours after you drink it. A big problem with drinking alcohol is that the symptoms of hypoglycemia and too much alcohol are very similar, so it can be hard to establish why you feel the way you do after drinking. It’s imperative that you take extra precautions when drinking alcohol if you are diabetic.
If you’re a diabetic then you may have to take medication, either a pill or an injection, to help lower your blood sugar level. Most diabetics have a high blood sugar level, but when you take insulin, it helps lower your blood sugar level and bring it within a healthy range. Your glucose level can change depending on whether you’ve eaten, what you’ve eaten and what you’ve had to drink.
Effect of Alcohol
When you drink alcohol, it lowers your glucose level, according to the American Diabetes Association, which can lead to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. If you want to drink alcohol, you have to check your blood sugar level, or glucose level, to make sure it’s within a normal range. The normal glucose range established by the ADA is between 100 and 140 mg/dL. If your glucose level is below the normal range, eat something sweet, such as a cookie or a piece of candy, to raise it. Once you get your glucose level within a healthy range, you can consume some alcohol, but you still have to be cautious because drinking too much can dramatically drop your glucose level. Drink only small amounts and check your glucose level frequently to ensure you do not become hypoglycemic.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, disorientation and sleepiness; however, these can also be side effects of drinking too much alcohol. This is why it’s so important to actually check your glucose level, rather than rely on how you feel to tell whether your glucose levels are fine. Other symptoms include seizures, double or blurred vision, loss of consciousness, anxiety, sweating, hunger, tremor and heart palpitations. You may also experience confusion, or the inability to complete tasks that you would normally do.
The ADA recommends that women limit their alcohol intake to one or fewer alcoholic beverages per day. One alcoholic drink is a 12-oz. beer, a 5-oz. glass of wine or 1 ½ oz. of vodka, gin or whiskey. Men should limit their alcohol consumption to having two or fewer drinks per day. If you drink a few times per week, let your doctor know. This can play a factor in the amount and type of diabetes medication he prescribes to help control your diabetes.