What Affect Does Alcohol Play On Diabetes?

In today’s day and age, going out for a drink with a couple of work friends for Happy Hour is not unheard of. However, if you are suffering from diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, alcohol can have a myriad of effects on your blood sugar levels including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).


Wine and beer are filled with a ton of sugar and carbohydrates so even the smallest amount of alcohol can raise your blood sugar levels. Alcohol consumption also increases triglyceride levels and blood pressure levels causing weight gain which makes type 2 diabetes management difficult. Constant high levels of blood sugar cause blood vessel damage lowering blood delivery to the nervous system causing nerve damage.


Drinking alcohol while on insulin can cause a severe drop in blood sugar levels due to how alcohol affects the liver. The liver spends it’s time breaking down alcohol rather than releasing stored glucose. Hypoglycemia symptoms include sweating, heart palpitations, blurry vision, trembling and headaches. Many people confuse this with a hangover and do not treat their low blood sugar properly.

If You Must 

If you decide you want to partake in libations with some coworkers here are some guidelines that we recommend you follow:

  • Drink on a full stomach
  • Check your blood sugar before you drink, while you are drinking, before bed and the next morning. Normal blood sugar levels are between 100 and 140 mg/dl. It’s very important to check blood sugar levels before bed as they natural lower overnight. If they seem a little low eat something before bed.
  • Stick to daily guidelines: women 1 glass, men 2 glasses, and do not drink to excess
  • Stay away from overly sweet drinks like wine, beer and mixed drinks with juices

We also recommend that if you go out for a night on the town that you wear a bracelet identifying that you have diabetes. That way in case of an emergency first responders will know what to do.