Staying Healthy While Going Out
As you get older, it is only natural that you will want to go out and enjoy yourself with your friends.
Managing your diabetes and your social life sometimes takes careful planning. It is important that you try to keep track of your diabetes and manage it well when you are out and about.
We hope this article answers some of the questions you may have about fitting diabetes into your life. If you have any other questions about diabetes, speak to your health care provider.
When you are old enough, your friends may start to try alcohol and encourage you to join in. It is important that you are aware of the effects of alcohol on your body and look after yourself so you don’t put yourself in danger. Drinking alcohol is not recommended while you are taking insulin.
Potential effects of alcohol:
Alcohol can increase the risk of low blood sugar—especially overnight, after you’ve been drinking (however, blood glucose will rise at first).
- Drinking too much can make you less able to realize you are having low blood sugar
- Alcohol can mask the symptoms of low blood sugar—people may think you have had too much to drink when you are actually suffering from severe low blood sugar
- When you have been drinking your judgment may be impaired, so you may forget to take your insulin or forget to eat before you go to bed
If you are going out on the town:
Make sure that someone you are with knows about your diabetes, how to recognize signs of low blood sugar, and how to manage low blood sugar
- Choose non-alcoholic drinks
- Carry low blood sugar treatment, testing supplies, and insulin with you at all times when you are out
- Remember to test your blood sugar, especially before bed and when you wake up in the morning—and continue to check the next day
- Discuss with your doctor or nurse how you should change your insulin when you go out, especially if you will be very active, for example, dancing
- Remember to take your insulin at the normal time
- Carry some form of diabetes identification—a medical alert bracelet is great for this—in case people think you have had too much to drink (whether you’ve been drinking or not) when you actually have low blood sugar
Many young people face the temptation of cigarette smoking, but now, more than ever, it should be very clear what a bad idea it is. Smoking is harmful to your health, whether you have diabetes or not. But for people with diabetes, smoking increases the risk of serious problems in the future with their heart, kidneys, and feet. If you have started smoking, it is never too late (or too soon) to quit. If you haven’t been smoking for too many years, you may still be able to avoid some of the long-term damage by quitting now.
But what about e-cigarettes? These battery-powered electronic devices turn nicotine into a vapor that is inhaled by the user, rather than burning to create smoke, like regular cigarettes. However, just because they don’t create smoke doesn’t mean that they are safe. They are not formally regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the FDA has studied them closely. The FDA reports from laboratory analysis that the vapor from electronic cigarettes can expose users to harmful chemical ingredients. One sample was found to contain diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. Several other samples were found to contain carcinogens. While e-cigarettes may be less toxic than regular cigarettes, the FDA still warns that they carry health risks. So even without the smoke, e-cigarettes are not a good idea.
If you are planning activities when you go out, such as bowling, skateboarding, or playing sports, you may need to have a snack or adjust your insulin dose. Remember that low blood sugar may also occur several hours after activity.
Make sure you have everything you need to manage your diabetes with you in case you have low blood sugar or high blood sugar while you are out.
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t go to parties and enjoy yourself. You can still eat party food as long as you monitor your blood sugar and adjust your insulin if necessary. If there is alcohol at the party, it’s best to steer clear of it.
You should test your blood sugar after the party and again at bedtime. You may need to adjust your insulin dose to help keep your blood sugar under control.