Hi Cara, thanks for your question.
Everyone's heard about the dangers of drinking and if you do decide to drink and you have diabetes, there are additional risks that you need to be aware of.
Alcohol can stop your liver from releasing glucose, which can increase the risk of hypos - especially if you’re out late, dancing or drink a lot. It can make it more difficult for you to recognise the symptoms of a hypo or you may be mistaken for being drunk. Even the next day, you need to be aware that alcohol can increase your risk of hypos up to 16 hours after drinking.
Alcohol can also cause vomiting and dehydration which may lead to DKA (ketoacidosis) and a possible trip to hospital. Many people also run into problems because alcohol can make it easy for you to forget about looking after your diabetes.
It’s recommended that adult women drink no more than 1 standard drink each day. On the label of each drink it will tell you how many standard drinks it contains.
While there’s no one alcoholic drink that’s suggested over another, reduced alcohol choices such as light beer have less alcohol than other drinks. Be careful of mixing your own drinks or drinking pre-mixed sweet drinks e.g. Vodka Cruisers, as it’s easy to drink too much too quickly. It’s a good idea to drink non-alcoholic drinks (including plenty of water) in between – this can slow you down and prevent you drinking too much.
If you do decide to drink, it’s important to take care to minimise any risks. Make sure you eat carbohydrate foods regularly while you’re drinking to reduce the risk of a hypo and carry hypo foods with you (e.g. in your handbag or pocket).
Wear ID saying that you have diabetes, and make sure that a friend who is with you (one who’s not drinking) knows what to do if you have a hypo. Remember too that drinking and driving is dangerous. Plan ahead and have a designed driver.
Test your blood glucose level, especially before bed, and top up with extra carbohydrate foods. It might even be a good idea to ask someone at home to test your BGL overnight to help detect and prevent an overnight hypo after drinking.
It’s important not to skip your bedtime insulin, but you may need some adjustments if you get home late - talk to your diabetes team about what to do in this situation. You can find more info in D Zone at the link below.
If you’re considering drinking it’s important to talk to your diabetes team about the risks and how to stay safe. You can find out more at the link below.