Alcohol and Type1 Diabetes
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol is the most commonly used recreational drug in Australia, available legally for anyone over the age of 18 years. It is actually a ‘depressant’ drug which simply means that it slows down your body’s response rates, which can lead to poor decision making and slower reflexes. Drinking alcohol can cause immediate problems with speaking and movement which can lead to harmful accidents or injuries, or unwanted physical or sexual violence.
Teens and Type1
When you become a teenager your body goes through a lot of changes. Just as your body keeps developing and maturing, so does your brain. There are a lot of reasons not to drink alcohol when you are young but one of the most important ones is that it can affect your brain from developing normally. It can cause health problems, memory problems, addiction or depression.
If you have Type1 Diabetes you are still able to drink alcohol, but there is a higher risk of Type1 Diabetes becoming unstable when alcohol is added into the mix. It is important for you to know the risks so you can prevent them and avoid dangerous situations.
Alcohol and Hypoglycaemia
If you are taking insulin, you are at risk of alcohol-related hypoglycaemia (hypos). A hypo is when blood glucose levels drop below 4mmol/L. Hypos can occur while drinking alcohol-or many hours afterwards- and can be dangerous.
Normally, the liver releases stored glucose if your blood glucose level falls too low. However, when you drink alcohol, the liver always processes the alcohol first, instead of releasing the stored glucose. This can increase the risk of hypo. Alcohol can also reduce your ability to recognise the symptoms of a hypo and make it difficult to treat.
Ask your doctor or diabetes health professional whether you might be at increased risk go alcohol-related hypos.
Tips to avoid a hypo while on a night out…
Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Avoid sugary drinks, go for the low carb or sugar free options.
Never drink on an empty stomach, and make sure your meal contains carbs. Or graze on carbs while drinking.
Always carry hypo treatments, and take them to bed with you. Keep a stash under your pillow or in your bedside drawer.
Always drink with friends who know you and are educated on Type1 and know how to treat a hypo.
Eat a snack of carbs before you go to bed.
Always wear some form of Type1 Medical alert or identification.
Ask someone to check on you throughout the night and in the morning.