Monday, June 16, 2008


OK, so last Monday I talked a little about how it is all right to drink alcohol if you have established blood sugar control and only have 1-2 drinks per day. But then my mind started to wonder more about the topic of drinking alcohol if you're a diabetic. I wondered, "How do people truly stay safe?"

There are some instances when diabetes and alcohol DON'T mix.

If you suffer from diabetic neuropathy, drinking can make this condition a lot worse. Why? Because heavy or prolonged alcohol use can cause nerve damage. So, think about this a minute. If your nerves are damaged from your diabetes already and then you add drinking alcohol into the equation, aren't you adding kerosine to an already lit fire?

The next problem could be with your liver. If you have high triglyceride levels you shouldn't drink alcohol. Remember from last Monday I said that one of the liver's job is to produce sugar. Another duty the liver has is to clear fat from the blood. If you are drinking alcohol, the liver's primary function turns to clearing that alcohol from your blood stream. Sugar production and getting rid of fat from your blood stream does not get done. So you become a hypoglycemic at risk for a major heart attack. (Kind of an extreme example, but you get the idea).

If you have a condition called hypertension (high blood pressure) which is treated by medications you shouldn't drink alcohol because alcohol raises blood pressure. As a diabetic, you are already at risk for hypertension. Chronic high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk to have diabetic related complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, and retinopathy. Worst case scenario and I have seen this happen to people, is that you'll be a patient in my ICU on chronic dialysis (because your kidneys are fried), who has suffered a heart attack or stroke, and are blind or legally blind. Definitely not a fun position to be in.

All that said, if you are a diabetic considering having a drink or two, here are some things to consider.

**Always eat something when you drink. This is a no brainer.

**Make sure mixed drinks are accurately measured or you could consume too much by accident.

**Don't exercise before drinking because exercise will lower your blood sugar. And be smart here. If you're planning on going to a dance club, remember dancing counts as exercise.

**Since you know that drinking alcohol lowers blood sugars, be prepared for hypoglycemia. Make sure you have a carbohydrate snack available. Carry something in your purse/pocket. I buy those glucose tablets that are available over the counter for my mother in law. Her sugars drop without warning. They are quick and easy to use.

**Remember to monitor your sugars throughout the night. If you are going out, take your glucose meter with you and check your sugars frequently.

**When you come home from your night out, eat a snack before bed because after a few evening drinks, your blood sugar levels may crash in the middle of the night. It might even be an excellent idea to set your alarm to wake you after a couple of hours of sleep so that you can check your blood sugar. You may need another snack.

No comments: