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Diabetes and Alcohol

Is it OK for people with diabetes to drink alcohol? This is something only you and your health care provider can answer.

If your diabetes is under control, you have your provider's OK, and you understand how alcohol can affect your diabetes, then it's probably safe to have a drink occasionally. If you decide to drink, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends no more than one drink a day for a woman and two drinks a day for a man. The ADA also recommends that you test your blood glucose before you drink and at bedtime. Talk with your health care provider for more information.

Keep in mind that you should never drink on an empty stomach, especially if you take insulin shots or diabetes pills. This can cause your blood glucose level to fall, and you can quickly end up with low blood sugar. Alcohol can also mask hypoglycemic symptoms in diabetic patients, which can be dangerous. Another concern is that many alcoholic beverages contain 100 calories or more. When possible, opt for light beer and sugar-free mixers. Skip alcohol entirely if you have diabetic nerve or eye damage or other health conditions made worse by alcohol.

In addition to the above concerns, alcohol interacts with a number of medications. If you already drink, it is important to be honest about the frequency and amount of your alcohol use when talking to your health care provider.  

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