Alcohol Consumption in College for Diabetics

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Alcohol Consumption in College

So, you’re in college now and you want to enjoy the “full college experience.” For many people, a very large part of this experience involves alcohol. Diabetics need to be careful when consuming alcohol because diabetes and alcohol can potentially be a very dangerous and even deadly combination. If you do decide to drink, please do so responsibly because drinking until you are “stupid” not only harms you, but it puts a lot of stress on friendships; who will bring you out of that seizure or fainting spell that was brought on by the hypoglycemia that resulted from drinking too much without eating first? Whoever it is will not appreciate having to do so.*

What happens when a person with diabetes ingests alcohol? One study showed that when an alcoholic beverage was ingested with an evening meal, there may be a delayed hypoglycemic episode the morning after, or up to 16 hours after ingestions. However, there was no acute event of hypoglycemia immediately after ingesting alcohol WITH a meal. (Richardson et al. 2005) On the other hand, alcohol on an empty stomach increases the risks of hypoglycemia in several ways.

First, ingestion of even small amounts may impair the ability of the individual to detect the onset of hypoglycemia at a stage when they are still able to take appropriate action, i.e., eat carbohydrates. Second, hypoglycemia per se may be mistaken for intoxication by third parties with legal as well as health consequences. Third, alcohol has been shown in some studies to directly impair the hormonal counterregulatory responses to low blood glucose levels (4). Fourth, recent data indicate that small amounts of alcohol can augment the cognitive deficits associated with hypoglycemia in individuals with type 1 diabetes (5). (Richardson et al. 2005)

Anyway, if you drink responsibly, everyone will surely have a good time.

For a slightly more comprehensive write-up, visit: http://www.diabetes.org/type-1-diabetes/alcohol.jsp



*On a side note, just taking care of yourself is important for that reason, too. I have talked to people who have had to take care of their friends/boyfriends/girlfriends who wouldn’t take care of themselves, and these people were basically glad to get out of the relationships they had with these people with diabetes because it was too much stress.

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Works Cited

Richardson T., Weiss M., Thomas P., Kerr D. Day after the night before: influence of evening alcohol on risk of hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2005 Jul;28(7):1801-2.



Pedersen-Bjergaard U, Reubsaet JL, Nielsen SL, Pedersen-Bjergaard S, Perrild H, Pramming S, Thorsteinsson B. Psychoactive drugs, alcohol, and severe hypoglycemia in insulin-treated diabetes: analysis of 141 cases. Am J Med. 2005 Mar;118(3):307-10.


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