Ask the Diabetes Educator Archive

5/10/04

Q:
My mother was diagnosed with diabetes about 30 years ago for which, until a few months ago, she took oral medications. She is now giving herself injections and seems to complain continually that her doctor is experimenting with her as her blood sugar level is either extremely high or extremely low. She also drinks alcohol. I’ve seen her drink Bailey’s Irish Coffee in her morning coffee, beer in the afternoon and wine at dinner and the rest of the evening. Alcoholism runs in her family and although she’s never been diagnosed, I do believe that she does have alcoholism. My questions are: Could the abuse of alcohol be adding to her inability to control her blood sugar levels? In what other ways can alcohol affect her diabetes?

A:
Absolutely; alcoholism puts one into a state of denial. Physically, alcohol is metabolized like fat, meaning that carbs are going to be processed after the alcohol. This will lead to erratic blood sugars. I would suggest here that you will need outside support; your Mother may or may not be receptive. Yes, it is important to be concerned about her blood sugars, but seemingly more important to find out why she drinks as she does, and get treatment for her if she is willing.



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