Alcohol and Diabetes

Drinking alcohol is often a risky endeavor. The health benefits are few (if any) and the negatives are many and varied. The negative consequences of drinking alcohol can be greatly multiplied if you are ill or on medication as well. One illness that is directly and can be severely affected is diabetes.

Diabetes, as you may know, is a disease in which your body either cannot produce or cannot use insulin. If you have diabetes, maintaining proper insulin levels is vital for your health and well being. If your blood sugar, or glucose, levels drop too low, or spike too high, you risk serious long term injury or perhaps even death. Alcohol is most associated with dropping blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. Here's why.

When you drink alcohol, your body takes notice, immediately. You have just entered a poison into your blood stream, and you have done it very quickly. Alcohol, when consumed, is quickly absorbed through the lining of your stomach and into your blood stream. Aside from the effects you may feel personally, your body is feeling it too. Your body's filter, your liver goes to work immediately to rid itself of this poison. In fact, it stops doing pretty much any other task at all while it tirelessly works to process the alcohol and get it out of your body. What function does the liver stop doing in order to process alcohol? Well, for one, releasing glucose into the bloodstream. Now you may be seeing where I am going. You see, the liver is responsible for releasing glucose into the blood stream, so when you drink alcohol, you basically shut that process down. If you have diabetes, then the lack of that glucose in your blood stream can be a serious threat to your health and your life. If, as part of your diabetes treatment, you are taking insulin or medication, they too are working to rid the body of excess glucose. As you can see, this combination can result in extremely low levels of glucose and the results could be harmful or fatal.

One of the ways to mitigate this process is to never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Eating something before drinking does two things, it slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, and it helps to maintain health blood sugar levels. If you have imbibed and are suffering ill effects due to low blood sugar, keep in mind that glucagon shots will not reverse the effects. These shots are only helpful in situations where blood sugar is low because the body produced too much insulin. If alcohol has caused your blood sugar levels to drop severely or you pass out because of it, you may need to have glucose injected directly into your blood stream in order to save you.

As you can see, alcohol and diabetes can be a deadly combination. Remember, if you are going to drink alcohol and you have diabetes, never drink on an empty stomach, and limit the drinks you do have. Fun is fun, but don't make it a life or death decision.

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