Discussion in 'Diabetes and College' started by AllyBui, May 1, 2012.
I was wondering if I wanted to drink a lot at a party how would that affect my diabetes?
As far as I see it, there are four main problems with drinking and diabetes.
1) Alcohol often causes the BG to drop several hours later. This can be resolved by reducing basal and taking a snack before bed, and waking up to check BG frequently.
2) Sugary alcohol can raise BG a lot. This can be resolved by drinking alcohol with a lower sugar content (for me I can cope with wine, beer and spirits with a diet mixer).
3) If you pass out from a low whilst drinking, people may assume you are drunk and leave you to 'sleep it off'. This can be resolved by making people aware of your condition.
4) If very intoxicated you will forget and/or become incapable of doing normal diabetes management techniques. Unless you have someone with you and they are FULLY trained on diabetes care and GUARANTEED to stay sober, this is a deal breaker, and this is the reason why I have never drunk past the 'tipsy' stage. The idea of not being able to take care of myself is frankly terrifying.
This is of course on top of the normal non-diabetic problems with drinking to excess.
So my advice is to take precautions to avoid issues 1-3 whilst drinking at all, and not to drink heavily enough to cause issue 4. If you are absolutely going to drink to excess such that you are incapable of performing normal tasks, please at the very least have someone trained up on diabetes care who can test your blood glucose and knows to call an ambulance if you are low and unconscious. Please note that that advice is ONLY to be used if you are determined to drink excessively, and I would not in any way endorse or advice that you do that. It's damage control, rather than everyday advice.
Really the biggest risk is that while your liver is busy processing alcohol in your bloodstream that it will NOT respond to injected glucagon at all. This makes having a severe low while/after drinking extermely dangerous... you'd need IV glucose if you were unresponsive or unable to keep anything down, and the possibility as Emma said that someone would not recognize that it's an emergency situation and assume you had just passed out and will just 'sleep it off' is very dangerous.
Personally, when I choose to drink (not often), I just run a bit higher than I normally would.
I know somebody who got drunk at a party and took off her pump and put it outside in the snow... fortunately somebody else brought it back inside.
Really, the biggest problem with drinking a lot is that you make bad choices while drunk. I mean, you can figure a way around the liver not releasing glycogen, you can plan around the sugars, but you can't plan around bad judgement.
I can't drink much because it aggravates my pancreatitis (or at least it did when I tried drinking on passover- OUCH OUCH OUCH) so I'm not much help.
I think drinking "a lot" is irresponsible for many reasons. Most importantly is that your liver will no longer put out sugar (it'll be busy processing the booze) and therefore your basal could cause a severe low that will be misinterpreted as being drunk. Glucagon will not work for this, so even if someone realizes what's happening your options are limited.
Drinking to the point of inebriation is not the best idea for a diabetic, IMO. You will lose the ability to manage your diabetes and those around you will not recognize what your needs are.
It is possible to drink responsibly, and be smart, keep your wits about you, etc. Lower your basal, eat uncovered snacks, and don't get so drunk you can no longer make good decisions.
My max is 2 drinks, and they're weak ones and I dose for the carb count and test frequently.
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