UK flag[ Home | Email | Info | Medical Board ]

Signs of diabetes

The main symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes can include:

  • going to the toilet to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
  • feeling thirsty
  • extreme tiredness
  • unexplained weight loss
  • genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • blurred vision.

Heavy drinking alcohol can contribute to the conditions that cause diabetes

There are three main ways drinking alcohol to excess can be a factor in causing diabetes:

  1. Heavy drinking can reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which can be a  trigger for type 2 diabetes
  2. Diabetes is a common side effect of chronic pancreatitis, which can be caused by heavy drinking.

The effects of diabetes

When someone has diabetes, more of the glucose in their body stays in their blood – it isn’t being used as fuel for energy. The body tries to reduce blood glucose levels by flushing the excess glucose out of the body into their urine.
Patients on insulin treatment for diabetes can develop abnormally low blood sugar levels. This is known as hypoglycaemia. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia include:

  • slurring words
  • a headache
  • confusion
  • double vision
  • abnormal behaviour
  • unconsciousness.

Hypoglycaemia can be particularly dangerous when you’re drinking because people can mistakenly think that you’re drunk and may not realise you need urgent medical help. Drinking heavily can also increase the chances of developing hypoglycaemia because it prevents the liver from making glucose when you don’t eat for between 6 and 12 hours. For example, the risk of hypoglycaemia would increase the morning after you’ve slept following heavy drinking.
If you have nerve damage as a result of diabetes, drinking alcohol can make it worse and increase the pain, tingling, numbness and other symptoms.


© 2000 Alcohol in Moderation. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Disclaimer