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Alcohol and Type 2 Diabetes

Updated on November 17, 2009

Before you pop that cork ...

Is it safe for people who have Type 2 diabetes to consume alcohol? Before you tip the glass be sure you know if the effects of alcohol would interfere with your medications.

Additionally, you need to know that alcohol can increase complications of the medical conditions that are already present. For instance, drinking alcohol can lead to low blood sugar reactions, and interfere with the release of insulin from the pancreas. Alcohol can also be detrimental to diabetic nerve damage, eye disease, and high blood triglycerides.

All alcohol is sugar-based, and diabetics must be aware of the consequences alcohol can create. If you choose to consume alcohol, do not drink excessively; remember, moderation is the key.

One serving size of alcohol equates to:

  • 12 ounces of beer

  • 1 ½ ounces of distilled spirits (such as whiskey, rum, etc)

  • 5 ounces of wine

No matter what type of alcohol you drink, or little you drink, alcohol can be dangerous to diabetics. Alcohol should be avoided if you have diabetic nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy). Drinking can increase tingling, numbness, burning and pain symptoms associated with nerve damage. Nerve damage is caused by uncontrolled diabetes. Also, avoid drinking alcohol if you have pancreatic problems or high levels of triglycerides.

Early diabetes symptoms may go unnoticed because the person only feels tired more often. Then increased trips to the bathroom to urinate may begin. Many become very thirsty, and feel a need to drink suddenly. Blurred vision is often experienced. Itching in and around the genital area may also be noticed.

Drinking Rules for Type 2 Diabetics

  • Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach

  • Never substitute alcohol for a meal

  • Wear an ID bracelet at all times

  • Maintain blood sugar levels with exercise and diet

Type 2 diabetics who do not manage and ignore blood sugar levels are playing with fire. They can encounter devastating damages to their health and decreased life expectancies. Impotency, nerve damage, blindness, liver conditions, and open sores are some debilitating conditions Type 2 Diabetics can experience.


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