Alcohol and diabetes do not always mix and if you are taking diabetes medications, then you will need to drink with caution because alcohol and diabetes medicine can combine to create blood sugar levels that are dangerously low.
Certain medications for diabetes, such as sulfonylureas and meglitinides (Prandin), help your body make more insulin which in turn lowers your blood sugar level. Alcohol can cause low blood sugar as well so when the two are combined it has the potential to result in hypoglycemia, the term used for blood sugar levels that have dropped too low.
The threat of hypoglycemia for most people simply means you must be more aware when drinking alcohol and take proper steps to avoid problems.
Tips to stay safe when drinking alcoholic beverages:
As mentioned above, alcohol tends to lower blood sugar and for diabetics this can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. "Your body can only break down one ounce of alcohol per hour." (1) So you will need to be aware of how much alcohol you are drinking and monitor how your body is handling it.
With the right precautions most diabetics can enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage but it is important to understand the relationship between alcohol and diabetes so you can drink responsibly and protect your health.
(1) Rhode Island Department of Health (2010). Diabetes prevention and control program. Retrieved from http://www.health.ri.gov/disease/diabetes/alcohol.php