Is it true that now I have diabetes I can’t drink alcohol?
As a general rule there is no need to give up alcohol just because you have diabetes. If you are on any medication, check with your doctor that it is OK for you to take alcohol. The principles of sensible drinking still apply: no more than fourteen standard drinks (units) for a woman and 21 standard drinks (units) for a man in the week.
One unit =
1/2 pint of ordinary strength beer, lager or cider
1 pub measure (50ml) of sherry, vermouth, liqueur or aperitif
1 glass of wine (125ml)
1 pub measure of spirit (25ml) (eg gin, vodka or whisky)
If you are drinking beer or lager, choose the ordinary types rather than the higher alcohol types. Low alcohol beers and lagers can be useful when you are watching the amount of alcohol you are having but remember that they are not totally alcohol-free.
All alcohol contains calories so if you are trying to lose weight it is best to only have an occasional drink.
Alcohol lowers blood glucose levels so if you are taking insulin or sulphonylurea tablets for your diabetes, drinking alcohol can make you less likely to recognise that you are having a hypo. To avoid going hypo never drink on an empty stomach and if you are going to be out late, always top up with a snack whilst you’re out. Remember there is still a risk that you could go hypo several hours after you have stopped drinking, so ensure you have another snack (such as cereal or toast) before going to bed and check your blood glucose levels. Always carry some identification on you stating you have diabetes. Otherwise, the symptoms of a hypo could be mistakenly considered to be just drunkardness.
I have heard that breath tests for drink driving can read positive if you have a high blood glucose level. Is this true?
Some breathalysers do register ketones on the breath, which can be present if the blood glucose level is very high. However, these machines also need to register alcohol on the breath to give a positive reading. So, if you have had a positive breath test, it’s because the machine registered that you had been drinking, not because your blood glucose level was high. The best advice is never to drink and drive