How does alcohol affect type 1 diabetes?
When planning a night out, there’s often lots to think about. What will I wear? How will I get home? Who will rescue me if I get stuck talking to someone boring? Did I pack my wallet, keys and phone? For people living with T1D, it’s no different – but just requires a little extra thought and planning as managing type 1 diabetes and alcohol can be tricky.
In Australia, guidelines on the level of alcohol consumption for people with type 1 diabetes are the same as that for the general population (2 standard drinks for men and 1 standard drink for women). However, we’re human and occasionally would like to go above this limit!
Moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood glucose levels to rise, while excess alcohol can decrease your blood glucose levels. This can be dangerous for people living with T1D due to increased risk of a hypo.
So if you’re planning a big night out, here is a guide to keep your T1D in check:
In addition to wallet, keys and phone – let’s add some extra essentials into your bag to ensure you have what you need to manage T1D throughout the night:
- Blood glucose meter and strips
- Hypo kit
When dancing and being more active on a night out, it can be easy to have a hypo. On the other hand, consuming sugary drinks and other carbs can cause blood glucose levels to easily spike. It’s important to regularly check your blood glucose levels throughout the night to keep track of these fluctuations and manage your T1D accordingly.
However, despite being properly prepared and keeping track of what’s happening in your body, it can still be easy to slip up when having a couple of drinks. It can be useful to have a friend to help look out for you. This especially applies when it comes to hypos. Make sure at least one friend is aware of your T1D and knows the signs of a hypo and how to treat one if needed.
In general, alcohol often results in a drop in blood sugar levels. However, sugars which are already included in your drinks can increase it. Make sure you keep track of the amount of carbs in your drinks throughout your night. Here is a table of some popular drinks with their carb count (make sure you check the label of your drinks for accurate measurements).