Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Select An Article

Diabetes and Alcohol

Font Size
A
A
A

If you have diabetes, drinking alcohol may cause your blood sugar to either rise or fall. Plus, alcohol has a lot of calories.

If you drink, do it occasionally and only when your diabetes and blood sugar level are well-controlled. If you are following a calorie-controlled meal plan, one drink of alcohol should be counted as two fat exchanges.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Are You in Diabetes Denial?

Don White, 68, a retired science teacher from upstate New York, first suspected he had type 2 diabetes when he was 45 years old and his school held a health fair for students and teachers. A simple prick of his finger to test for high blood sugar -- a sign of diabetes -- revealed some unexpected news. "My numbers were way above normal," says White. "In a matter of days, and a couple of doctor's appointments later, I found out I had type 2 diabetes." White and his family were surprised by the diagnosis...

Read the Are You in Diabetes Denial? article > >

It is a good idea to check with your doctor to see if drinking alcohol is safe for you.

Effects of Alcohol on Diabetes

Here are some other ways that alcohol can affect diabetes:

  • While moderate amounts of alcohol may cause blood sugar to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease your blood sugar level -- sometimes causing it to drop into dangerous levels, especially for people with type 1 diabetes.
  • Beer and sweet wine contain carbohydrates and may raise blood sugar.
  • Alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can cause you to overeat and may affect your blood sugar control.
  • Alcoholic drinks often have a lot of calories, making it more difficult to lose excess weight.
  • Alcohol may also affect your judgment or willpower, causing you to make poor food choices.
  • Alcohol can interfere with the positive effects of oral diabetes medicines or insulin.
  • Alcohol may increase triglyceride levels.
  • Alcohol may increase blood pressure.
  • Alcohol can cause flushing, nausea, increased heart rate, and slurred speech.

These may be confused with or mask the symptoms of low blood sugar.

Diabetes and Alcohol Consumption Dos and Don'ts

People with diabetes who drink should follow these alcohol consumption guidelines:

  • Do not drink more than two drinks of alcohol in a one-day period if you are a man, or one drink if you are a woman. (Example: one alcoholic drink = 5-ounce glass of wine, 1 1/2-ounce "shot" of liquor or 12-ounce beer).
  • Drink alcohol only with food.
  • Drink slowly.
  • Avoid "sugary" mixed drinks, sweet wines, or cordials.
  • Mix liquor with water, club soda, or diet soft drinks.
  • Always wear a medical alert piece of jewelry that says you have diabetes.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on February 02, 2016
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
kenneth fujioka, md
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Article
 
Middle aged person
Tool
jennie brand miller
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
feet
Slideshow