Shock, another factor which messes with your blood glucose levels is alcohol. It is recommended when suffering from Type 1, you should consume less than 2-3 drinks a day… in my case I’m a student so let’s be real, that’s not going to happen. I don’t drink that regularly, once a week maybe, but when I drink, I make the most of it.
Knowing what to expect is important, and it’s also very important that those around you know what to look for on nights out. Alcohol causes delayed onset of hypos, this is because the liver is still breaking down the toxins from the alcohol, and therefore cannot release glucose as freely as it normally does and hypos will occur. To counteract these hypos, it’s important to take on board a carbohydrate snack before bed, for me this is a trip to top pizza for some chicken goujons or pizza. I also have a pint of water at my bedside to help flush the toxins out of my body so my liver can begin to produce normal levels of glucose again.
If blood levels go low, it can mimic the appearance of drunkenness, as mentioned in my blog on hypos, slurring of words, dizziness and muscle weakness is part and parcel of hypos and also a common sign in someone who has taken on board too much alcohol. Thankfully I’ve never experienced a hypo in a nightclub but I make sure the people I’m with have jellies or glucogel on them and that they’re aware of what I may look like if I’m experiencing a low.
It’s also really important to have a meal beforehand, drinking on an empty stomach will increase the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, which increases the likelihood of hypos.
Before I leave the house to go out, I always run through a checklist in my head as to what I need to bring with me: glucose meter, glucogel, jellies and identification saying that I have diabetes. I never bring insulin with me, that’s a personal choice, but (touch wood), if I were to ever pass out because of a hypo in a nightclub I would be afraid that someone would think that injecting me with insulin is a good idea. Wrong, that will create further issue and worsen my state, so I avoid that fear altogether and leave it at home, or give it to a friend.
Everyone has personal choices as to what they like to drink. I tend to avoid beer/cider because if the high sugar content and stick to spirits (😅) with sugar-free mixers, this is more expensive but worth it to prevent the risk of high BG levels. Hypers are also very common if drinks with a high sugar content like cider is consumed, so it’s best to avoid them.
Drinking, like everything else with Type 1 diabetes, isn’t easy, but there’s no point in not going out and doing what you usually do, the main thing is enjoying yourself. When I first got diagnosed, I gave up drinking for a while because of the difficulties I was experiencing with managing levels. I let things settle down, dealt with the initial shock of the diagnosis and eventually threw myself back into social drinking because I wanted to, not because anybody told me to. I wasn’t comfortable with drinking initially but now I know how to deal with the effects the following day and can manage and plan properly.