Diabetes and Alcohol: Causes for Concern
Alcohol poses health and safety concerns all by itself, so when coupled with diabetes, many more concerns are brought to the table. Understanding these causes for concern and then proceeding with caution and medical expert guidance are the best solution for keeping you safe and healthy.
Does Alcohol Cause Diabetes?
No. Alcohol, by itself does not cause diabetes, but because of our body’s response to alcohol, there are several things to be aware of, especially for those who already have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Alcohol and Diabetes: What You Should Know
1. Alcohol Can Cause Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) Shortly Following Alcohol Consumption and for 8-12 Hours After: It is always a good idea to check blood sugar before drinking and to eat either right before or while you drink to ensure your blood sugar stays within the appropriate margins of safety.
Note: Symptoms of alcohol overconsumption are similar to that of hypoglycemia, including dizziness, disorientation, sleepiness, nausea, slurred speech, etc. It is a good idea to always wear some sort of diabetes medical identification, so those around you and medical personal know how to treat you in case of an emergency.
2. Alcohol Can Interfere with or Affect Oral Diabetic Meds or Insulin: The action of insulin and many oral diabetic medicines is to lower blood glucose levels by supplying or making more insulin. So it is important not to drink when blood sugar is low or when you have nothing in your stomach. This can lead to the hypoglycemia mentioned above, as well.
3. Alcohol Can Stimulate Your Appetite: This may cause you to over-eat, possibly leading to obesity, or may affect ability to safely control blood sugar.
4. Alcohol May Increase Triglyceride Levels: This refers to the amount of fat in the blood. Alcohol effects triglyceride levels because it is a major source of extra calories consumed, which turn into fat. Alcohol has also been shown to inhibit fat burning. According to the July 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study conducted in Switzerland found that alcohol in the bloodstream can decelerate fat metabolism by 30% or more.
5. Alcohol May Increase Blood Pressure: According to the Mayo Clinic, having more than 3 drinks in one sitting can raise blood pressure temporarily, but binge drinking, repeatedly, can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure. Weight gain related to alcohol consumption can also contribute, as obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure. Alcohol can interfere with some blood pressure medications, as well.
Can Alcohol Cause Diabetes?
Yes. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to situations that can cause diabetes. Women can safely consume 1 drink per day, and men 2 drinks per day, but anything above that places a person at risk. (1 alcoholic drink =a 12 oz. beer, 5 oz glass of wine, or 1.5 oz. distilled spirits such as gin, whiskey, vodka, etc.).
Situations in Which Alcohol Causes Diabetes
• Pancreatitis: Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis can damage the pancreas so that it is unable to secrete adequate amounts of insulin to control blood glucose levels. This can cause diabetes to develop.
• Obesity: Obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Because alcohol may cause you to over-eat, and because overconsumption of alcohol can lead to weight gain, obesity is another example of how alcohol consumption could cause diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes and Alcohol: Questions before Consumption
The American Diabetic Association encourages those with type 2 diabetes to ask themselves three general questions before consuming alcohol:
1. Is your diabetes under control?
2. Do you have health conditions that could become worse by consuming alcohol (such as high blood pressure, nerve damage, etc.)? Check with your doctor.
3. Do you know how alcohol may affect you and your diabetes?
Alcohol and Diabetes Type 2: Tips to Keep You Safe
• Consult with your doctor and heed their council-alcohol can make complication of diabetes worse. Also, make sure your doctor is aware of how much alcohol you are consuming so that prescribed medications maintain effectiveness as alcohol can interfere with diabetic meds.
• Be sure to monitor blood glucose levels, before, during, and after drinking alcohol. Also very important to check blood sugar before going to bed.
• Stay away from binge drinking. Women no more than one drink per day and men, two drinks per day.
• Never drink on an empty stomach. Food will help to decrease the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream.
• Always be prepared. Always keep glucose tablets or some other source of sugar with you. (Glucagon shots will not work in this situation). Also important to always were medical identification tags indicating that you have diabetes so that medical personnel, or others know how to treat you in case of an emergency.
• Do NOT drink and drive!
Because alcohol consumption presents health concerns even by itself, when paired with diabetes, it is a good idea to follow all precautionary measures before drinking, beginning with a conversation with your medical provider to find out how alcohol may affect you. Though alcohol does not cause diabetes by itself, abuse, misuse, or poor judgment can in fact lead to situations that can cause diabetes, such as pancreatitis and obesity. Being a responsible drinker and following the tips to keep you safe will help in preventing any adverse circumstances from occurring. So, I guess the bottom line is-If you are going to drink, DRINK RESPONSIBLY!
Alcohol. Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/alcohol.html
Alcohol and Triglycerides. Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from http://www.high-triglycerides.com/herbal-remedies/high-triglycerides/alcohol-and-triglycerides
Davidson, Nancy Klobassa, R.N. and Moreland, Peggy, R.N. (December 9, 2011). Alcohol and Diabetes: Drinking Safely. Retrieved on March 8, 2011 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alcohol-and-diabetes/MY01138
Diabetes and Alcohol. (Reviewed October 27, 2011). Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from http://diabetes.webmd.com/drinking-alcohol
Hughes, Melody. Can Alcoholism Cause Diabetes? Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from (http://www.ehow.com/facts_4965943_can-alcoholism-cause-diabetes.html
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