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Drink with Caution: Diabetes and Alcohol

A glass of wine one night, a beer at the baseball game the next afternoon. It’s easy to drink without thinking. But when you have diabetes, alcohol can be dangerous.

Understanding the Risks

When you have alcohol in your system, you may be less likely to check your blood glucose, take your insulin, or stick to your diet. Drinking also increases your chances of hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose. Hypoglycemia can occur shortly after drinking and for 24 hours after drinking.

Alcohol has longer-term dangers, too. Frequent drinking may increase your levels of triglycerides—harmful fats in your blood—according to a study in the International Journal of Vascular Medicine. Other research has linked it to a pattern of behavior that increases the risk of dying of diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.

Smart Sipping

If you choose to drink, talk with your doctor and dietitian. They can help you determine if it’s safe to add a little alcohol into your meal plan. In addition, always:

• Check your blood glucose before drinking. Don’t drink if it is low.
• Have a meal or snack if you are consuming an alcoholic beverage to avoid low blood glucose.
• Wear an ID bracelet so those around you when you’re drinking know you have diabetes.
• Check your blood glucose before bed to make sure it’s at a safe level. Be sure to eat something if it is low.

Drinking and driving is even riskier if you have diabetes, because of the risk for low blood glucose. Don’t plan to get behind the wheel for several hours after you drink.

Check out your local Rite Aid to find some of your favorite brands of diabetes supplies.

 

Sources

“Alcohol.” American Diabetes Association.www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/alcohol.html?print=t.

“Controlling Your Diabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/tcyd/control.htm.

“Diabetes and alcohol use: Detecting at-risk drinking.” P.A. Engler. The Journal of Family Practice.Vol. 60, no. 12, pp. E1–6.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22163365.

“The Effect of Alcohol on Postprandial and Fasting Triglycerides.” A. Van deWiel et al. International Journal of Vascular Medicine.epub ahead of print.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179875/.

“Impact of Lifestyle-Related Factors on All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes.” C. Lin et al. Diabetes Care.Vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 105–12.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3241333/.

“Risky Business: Risk Behaviors in Adolescents With Type 1 Diabetes.” S.S. Jaser et al. The Diabetes Educator.Vol. 37, no. 6, pp. 756–64.www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22002971.