Can Alcohol Cause Diabetes? Here’s What Health Experts Say

Among other cell types, the Islets of Langerhans include an inner core of insulin-producing beta cells surrounded by a layer of glucagon-producing alpha cells. If you chronically abuse alcohol, you probably don’t get as much nutrition as your body needs. Going on a drinking binge when your body is in a malnourished state may cause abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting. Infection or other illnesses such as pancreatitis can alcoholic ketoacidosis also trigger alcoholic ketoacidosis in people with alcohol use disorder. In patients suspected of having alcoholic ketoacidosis, serum electrolytes (including magnesium), blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine, glucose, ketones, amylase, lipase, and plasma osmolality should be measured. Patients who appear significantly ill and those with positive ketones should have arterial blood gas and serum lactate measurements.


DKA occurs more frequently with type 1 diabetes, although 10% to 30% of cases occur in patients with type 2 diabetes,[2] in situations of extreme physiologic stress or acute illness. According to the morbidity and mortality review of the CDC, diabetes itself is one of the most common chronic conditions in the world and affects an estimated 30 million people in the United States. For blood sugar management, people with diabetes shouldn’t go more than five or six hours without food. Missing meals can put someone at risk for DKA because it can result in dangerously high or low blood sugar levels.

Who Is at Risk for Lactic Acidosis From Metformin?

One limitation of this research is that it relied on self-reports from people, and people may not be fully transparent about how much alcohol they drink. This study also did not have a wide population of women, and so more research needs to be done in females. One of its many jobs is to store glucose and send it back to your bloodstream to stabilize your blood sugar levels as needed, particularly overnight. So when you drink, your liver won’t send glucose back into your bloodstream when you need it—and the result can be low blood sugar. But if you drink wine, beer or liquor regularly, are you at risk for type 2 diabetes? After speaking to dietitians and diabetes educators, there is not a clear, direct connection between drinking alcohol and developing type 2 diabetes.

Treatment of Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

This unfavorable ratio of insulin to glucagon activates hormone-sensitive lipase, which breaks down triglycerides in peripheral fat stores, releasing long-chain fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids undergo beta-oxidation in the hepatic mitochondria and generate acetyl-CoA. An increased anion gap metabolic acidosis occurs when these ketone bodies are present as they are unmeasured anions. Alcoholic ketoacidosis[5] occurs in patients with chronic alcohol abuse and liver disease and usually develops following abrupt withdrawal of alcohol or an episode of acute intoxication.

What to Know About Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

  • However, Lin and colleagues (1995) reported that the LDL cholesterol in alcoholics exhibits altered biological functions and may more readily cause cardiovascular disease.
  • Heavy alcohol use can increase the accumulation of fat in the liver, leading to inflammation, fibrosis, and decreased liver function.
  • Acetic acid is a product of the metabolism of alcohol and also a substrate for ketogenesis.
  • Clinical experience indicates, however, that a testosterone deficit rarely is the sole reason for impotence in diabetic men, because treatment with testosterone rarely restores potency in those men.
  • Blood glucose levels and electrolytes should be monitored on an hourly basis during the initial phase of management.

Dehydration and metabolic abnormalities worsen with progressive uncontrolled osmolar stress, which can lead to lethargy, obtundation, and may even cause respiratory failure, coma, and death. Patients with AKA usually present with abdominal pain and vomiting after abruptly stopping alcohol. Lactic acidosis is a health condition characterized by elevated lactate levels in the body. These high lactate levels may result from increased cell production, decreased clearance (mainly within the liver), or some combination.

Does Alcohol Increase Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

can alcohol cause ketoacidosis

Diabetes is complicated—there’s not one food or drink that can cause or cure diabetes. While alcohol alone is not a factor that solely causes diabetes, it can affect what you eat, how active you are and your sleep, which may also make you more prone to diabetes over time. The recommended daily limit is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Choose alcohol that is low in calories and total carbohydrates and pair your alcohol with a balanced meal for best blood sugars later. The remainder of the patient’s laboratory evaluation – including liver enzymes, amylase, and lipase – were within normal limits, and methanol, ethylene glycol, salicylate, and digoxin levels were negative. Of note in the table above, the patient’s INR was greater than 11, above the upper limit of the assay, and this was confirmed by repeating the test.

Alterations of Lipid Metabolism

Dehydration and volume constriction directly decrease the ability of the kidneys to excrete ketoacids. Profound dehydration can culminate in circulatory collapse and/or lactic acidosis. Lactic acid levels are often elevated because of hypoperfusion and the altered balance of reduction and oxidation reactions in the liver. Your prognosis will be impacted by the severity of your alcohol use and whether or not you have liver disease. Prolonged used of alcohol can result in cirrhosis, or permanent scarring of the liver. Instead, the 40-year-old has a rare medical condition that causes his body to produce its own alcohol.

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