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June 18, 2003

Daily Care

Question from Dallas, Texas, USA:

My husband was a heavy drinker and when they told him he had diabetes, he tried to cut back, but when we goes out of town, he wants to start all over again. Right know, he is not drinking and he is doing just fine because he sought treatment with a private doctor. I fix his meals the way they should be and cut back on the fat, and he eats fruits or sugar-free cookies at night thinking it might not do him any harm, but still his sugar remains about 250 mg/dl [13.9 mmol/L]. However, when he does drink, his levels lower to normal. Why is my husband's blood sugar only normal when he drinks? Why is his sugar so high when he takes his medicine, eats right and is very active?

Answer:

There may be several reasons why the glucose levels are not as high when he drinks. First, alcohol has a pharmacologic effect on the liver which turns off the ability of the liver to export glucose into the blood. This can cause serious lows in people on medicines that lower blood sugars. Secondly, when he drinks, he substitutes alcohol for the other carbohydrate-containing snacks he eats at home. It sounds like he still needs to address the alcohol intake. This is crucial for his general health.

JTL