Alcohol and hypos

Be aware that drinking alcohol increases your risk of having a hypo if you’re on insulin or certain other diabetes medications such as Gliclazide and Repaglinide.

Drinking alcohol can affect everyone’s blood sugar levels. But for people with diabetes there is a bigger risk from this happening, especially if you’re on insulin or certain diabetes medications.

Speak to your healthcare team to check if your medication might be affected by alcohol and increase your risk of having “a hypo”.

Why alcohol increases your risk of hypos

Your liver has to work twice as hard when you drink because it's trying to keep your blood sugar steady while getting rid of the alcohol. It just can’t keep up.

Your blood sugar might drop and stay low until your liver has dealt with the alcohol, so you might wake up with a headache and crave carbs.

Your risk of having a hypo increases and can last up to 24 hours after your last drink. And you’re more likely to have a hypo if you drink lots on an empty stomach.

Don’t mistake a hypo for being drunk

It’s common for some people to mistake a hypo for being drunk, so always wear medical ID and carry hypo treatments with you.

Make sure that whoever you’re with knows you have diabetes and can help you deal with a hypo.

Cut your risk of having a hypo after drinking alcohol

Drinking a pint of water before you go to bed will help keep you hydrated and, if you’re lucky, stop you getting a hangover. Drinking lots of water the next day is good, too.

Always have breakfast because it will help with your blood sugar levels. If you can’t face food or you’ve been sick, drink plenty of fluids including some sugary (non-diet) drinks.

If you can, check your blood sugar levels regularly throughout the next day. The symptoms of a hypo and a hangover are similar, so you need to know if your blood sugar levels are getting too low.

No matter how awful you feel, you must treat a hypo straight away.

If you take insulin, you might need to change your dose depending on what your levels are. Talk to your healthcare team about what you should do if drinking alcohol affects your blood sugar levels.

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