From the start of December to the first week of the New Year, we often reflect upon what we've endured throughout the course of the previous 11 months - and endure the assault of numerous holiday parties, friendly get-togethers and family gatherings.
Holiday parties are just as big a part of the season as ole' Tannenbaum and partridges in pear trees. And the one thing that makes these seasonal parties such a hit? Alcohol, and lots of it.
Alcohol has long been a staple at holiday parties, from hearty eggnog and spiced cider to neon-colored mixed concoctions and the traditional brewskie. But, with so many alcoholic drinks available and being enjoyed, it can be easy to forget about the effects the drinks are having on your body.
Besides causing the well-known effect of drunkenness, alcohol wreaks havoc upon the body's blood sugar, which can pose serious health problems for someone who lives with diabetes or who takes certain prescription medications.
Alcohol not only lowers blood glucose levels over the long term, but mixed drinks with their high sugar content can cause a sharp spike in blood glucose levels, which can be just as dangerous to a person with diabetes.
Research shows that shortly after drinking (and up to 12 hours later) the body can enter a state of hypoglycemia. For diabetics, the symptoms of hypoglycemia can be nearly identical to that of being drunk - disorientation, sleepiness and dizziness. One of the biggest concerns is that friends and family often are unable to discern the difference between someone who had a little too much to drink and someone who is in a medically dangerous situation. The amount of alcohol a diabetic drinks is important to monitor because, according to the American Diabetes Association, the body needs about one hour to break down a single ounce of alcohol.
Therefore, it's up to the individual to learn how to manage their own blood sugar while drinking.
Contrary to common belief, most diabetics don't need to strictly avoid alcoholic beverages. Today's research indicates that many diabetics can drink a moderate amount of alcohol without risk of compromising their health. That said, there are certain things they need to keep in mind when drinking to keep their blood sugar level in a safe area. Of course, anyone who has diabetes should always consult their doctor before drinking alcohol as they may have specific reasons for avoiding it.