Age - alcohol
Bad Interactions with Medications
People with diabetes are advised to discuss alcohol use with their health professional. Those with well-managed diabetes can safely drink alcohol, although the risk of low blood glucose is increased if alcohol is drunk without food (and insulin) is used. People with diabetes are advised to monitor blood glucose when drinking and to wear an alert bracelet or similar identification (alerting others of their diabetes in an emergency) because the symptoms of low blood glucose – a ‘hypo’, and drunkenness are very similar. ALAC (NZ).
Top tips for drinking safely
Filling a glass to the top does not necessarily mean you have poured a standard drink. Glass sizes vary, which makes it very easy at a party or at home to pour a much bigger helping than just one standard drink.
- Have a substantial starchy snack or meal beforehand, or have your meal within half an hour after your drink.
- If you are drinking throughout the evening, snack on some crackers, chips, bread, biscuits.
- Make sure the friends you are drinking with know you have diabetes and know how to treat a hypo.
- It is important you have something very obvious that indicates that you have diabetes, such as an ID card, a medical necklace or a bracelet
- Don't forget that a hypo can still kick in a few hours after you stop drinking, so always have a starchy snack before going to bed, especially if you had your evening meal early. Have cereal or toast, or even grab a kebab or chips on the way home.
Alcohol and hypos
For people who treat diabetes with diabetes tablets or insulin, alcohol makes a hypo (low blood glucose – below 4mmol/l ) more likely to occur, and this increased risk continues for some time after you stop drinking.
The liver gets rid of alcohol at the rate of about one unit per hour, but this can vary. So if you drink more than a few units in an evening, you will have an increased risk of a hypo all night and also part of the next day as the liver continues to get rid of the alcohol.
Alcohol also slows down the release of glucose from the liver so if you have a hypo it is less able to release glucose into the blood.
The above information has been taken from ALAC.
What is a standard drink?
- 300 mls of standard beer
- 600 mls of reduced alcohol beer
- 100 mls of wine
- 30 mls (one pub measure) of spirits
- 70 mls of fortified wine (sherry, port)
It is very easy to overestimate a standard drink. Most wine glasses can hold almost two standard drinks when full. A 750ml bottle of wine provides approximately 7.5 standard drinks. A litre jug of beer holds slightly more than three standard drinks.