Alcohol-Induced Diabetes: Signs and Side Effects

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Alcohol-Induced Diabetes: Signs and Side Effects

People with diabetes should be especially cautious about drinking alcohol. Likewise, people who suffer from alcohol use disorders are also at risk of developing diabetes, among a variety of other problems. Alcohol-induced diabetes is the result of drinking’s effects on the liver. Medications for diabetes can also interact with alcohol, potentially preventing the medication from taking effect. Our treatment center in Palm Beach is looking into alcohol-induced diabetes, signs that you may have it, and possible side effects.


What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin, allowing the blood sugar to be used by cells as energy. People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin, or they can’t use the insulin their bodies make properly.


There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1: Occurs when the body can’t produce insulin due to genetic factors or infection
  • Type 2: Occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. This can occur as a result of genetic factors or diet.


When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much sugar remains in your bloodstream, which can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, loss of vision, kidney disease, and poor circulation. Diabetics may also take more time to heal than people without diabetes. Sometimes, even the smallest nicks or cuts can take weeks to go away. This is the result of poor circulation.


Circulation of blood at the wound site is crucial for healing. But because diabetes causes the blood vessels to narrow or constrict, blood flow is impaired, and less oxygen reaches the wound, causing the healing process to take longer. Additionally, elevated glucose levels decrease the ability of red blood cells to carry nutrients to the wound, limiting the effect of white blood cells in fighting infections.


Can Alcohol Cause Diabetes?

Yes, drinking alcohol can cause diabetes. Drinking too much alcohol can cause diabetes by causing chronic inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), impairing its ability to release insulin. Diabetes and alcohol use may also co-occur because alcohol is “empty calories,” meaning it has no nutritional value. Consuming alcohol can contribute to unhealthy eating patterns, weight gain, and obesity, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. Alcohol can also interfere with the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which can affect the onset of type 2 diabetes.


Risks of Drinking Alcohol with Diabetes

People with both diabetes and alcoholism and people with diabetes who often drink also increase their risk of worsening their symptoms. Alcohol can worsen diabetes by blocking the production of glucose in the liver, which can result in very low blood sugar levels. The symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) are usually similar to the side effects of alcohol, making it difficult to differentiate the two. Low blood sugar and alcohol can both cause symptoms like blurred vision, slurred speech, sedation, and impaired coordination.


Excessive drinking can also damage the liver, which helps to filter and flush toxins out of the body and process medications. This poses a serious risk for people who rely on their medications to control their diabetes. The effects of alcohol can be unpredictable and cause a person’s blood sugar levels to fluctuate dangerously, which can last for several hours after the person stops drinking.


Some additional side effects of drinking alcohol with diabetes include:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (high ketone levels)
  • Low LDL cholesterol (low bad cholesterol)
  • High HDL cholesterol (high good cholesterol)
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Impotence (erectile dysfunction)
  • Vision problems or eye disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)


On a side note, if you’re struggling to control your drinking despite the damage it’s causing, you may have an alcohol use disorder. Our Palm Beach addiction center offers alcohol detox that can flush it out of your system and help you start fresh in recovery.


Diabetes and Alcohol Blackouts

Alcohol can cause your blood sugar levels to drop significantly, which can lead to loss of consciousness or blackout. Common symptoms of low blood sugar include nervousness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, and heart palpitations. However, as we went over earlier, the effects of alcohol are often similar to the effects of low blood sugar, making it difficult for the person to realize their blood sugar levels are low. As a result, they may keep drinking and increase their risk of blacking out.


Can Quitting Alcohol Reverse Diabetes?

Although quitting alcohol does not reverse diabetes, it does help – a lot. The best way to manage your diabetes is to follow a proper diet and exercise regularly. Sometimes, people who can manage their diabetes with diet and exercise alone can come off their medications, which is a big relief on the liver.


Treating Diabetics Who Have Alcoholism

The best way to overcome diabetes and alcoholism is to seek professional treatment. At our drug rehab in Palm Beach, we not only offer alcohol withdrawal treatment to help patients safely detox from alcohol, but we also offer alcohol addiction treatment that includes therapy and counseling to target the psychological aspect of patients’ alcohol use disorders.


Patients being treated for alcoholism who have diabetes can be at ease at our facility, knowing that they’ll eat healthy, gourmet meals and also engage in activity therapies, like meditation and yoga. Our holistic treatment center in Lake Worth is big on utilizing as many safe and natural remedies, such as spiritual healing, aromatherapy, meditation, and yoga, to heal the body from addiction and other ailments.


You don’t have to cope with addiction alone. Call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981 for more information about our addiction treatment in Palm Beach.


Related Reading:

Warning Signs of Alcohol Addiction

UCSF Scientists Find Possible Trigger for Alcoholism

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