Massive Blood Sugar Rise After Quitting Alcohol From Being A Very Heavy Drinker

Odishon

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Type of diabetes
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Diet only
Hi,

I am a 54 year old male, diagnosed with type 2 around 15 years ago. At one point early on I managed with carb reduction and intermittent fasting to reverse the diabetes to a prediabetic level, despite being a pretty heavy drinker. I reduced my metformin to once per day. Over the past 18 months my GP has not been happy with all the 3 month blood results as they are going in the wrong direction. I told him I was trying to reduce my alcohol consumption as during the pandemic it became very high (approximately two to three bottles of wine per night). Eventually after reaching out for help it became very apparent I needed to go alcohol free after drinking for 37 years. I quit on 1st April (two months ago).
Far from feeling the benefits everyone talked about with regards to quitting alcohol I have felt more and more ill. Extreme fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches, pain receptors feeling as though they were at a 10 not a 3. I was due to see my GP three months after quitting for more bloods but now two months in I decided to check my bloods at home. They are on average first thing in the morning and throughout the day, above 18, sometimes after eating (low carb) around 27. Obviously, I have made an appointment to see my GP in three days time as this is urgent. I know alcohol does lower bloods and people with managed diabetes can have a hypo if they binge alcohol. But I can't find anyone who has given up heavy drinking and this has happened. I take Metformin twice per day at full dose now. I bought a Libre 2 monitor and my bloods don't reduce after Metformin and a medical friend suggested I have become resistant to Metformin but the alcohol was keeping my bloods down and now I'm basically a type 2 with no medication as such. I have decided I will go Keto immediately and obviously will take advice on medication from my GP. My aim though would be to be able to come off the meds if they and keto can get my bloods right down. Anyone read or had a similar situation?
Thanks.
 

Chris24Main

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Hey - so I gave up drinking progressively over about a year - during which I was diagnosed T2. Not directly comparable, but the initial diagnosis in my case should really have been around fatty liver - and my guess is that this is also what you are going through, but with alcohol rather than fructose (in my case) - with withdrawal as part of the deal.

It sounds pretty awful, and I feel for you; there is a lot going on, but I suspect that most of your symptoms would be the same for anyone giving up that hard...

How did you get on with your GP?
 
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ianf0ster

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Hi,

........................................... I take Metformin twice per day at full dose now. I bought a Libre 2 monitor and my bloods don't reduce after Metformin and a medical friend suggested I have become resistant to Metformin but the alcohol was keeping my bloods down and now I'm basically a type 2 with no medication as such. I have decided I will go Keto immediately and obviously will take advice on medication from my GP. My aim though would be to be able to come off the meds if they and keto can get my bloods right down. Anyone read or had a similar situation?
Thanks.
Hi @Odishon and welcome to the forum.

I feel you may have been misinformed about the effects of Metformin. There are supposed to be 2 effects:
1. That it 'reduces the amount' of glucose that your liver produces and dumps into your blood stream.
2. That it in some way 'reduces insulin resistance'. - This I'm sceptical about, since I have never found a satisfactory explanation as to how we get insulin resistance in the first place, so, it seems a stretch to have a cure for something without knowing the cause (rather like statins and CVD).

The other thing about Metformin is that the drug has to build up in your system for days/weeks before it has any effect. Thus, you will see no effect from taking Metformin or not taking it on one single day!
 

Chris24Main

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Having gone around this topic with my GP - I totally agree, in fact this was the starting point of my own journey, just feeling totally unsatisfied with the explanation of what Metformin was supposed to do and what insulin resistance was.

We kind of agreed on this - Metformin does a few things, but the main effect is to inhibit signals to the Liver which have the result of blocking about 60% of the liver's ability to generate new glucose (which is otherwise under fine hormone control, switching between storing glucose or creating it from stored Glycogen or fat).

If my plan was to fast in order to flush out the liver - what was the point of taking a drug that would stop this .. and.. the idea of metformin reducing insulin resistance is mainly that if you can see a reduction in blood glucose (because you have throttled the liver from producing it) then you get the idea that insulin resistance is improving... but really you haven't addressed the underlying issue (too much glucose and insulin in the whole body).

It's probably the best of all the drugs to reduce blood glucose while causing least harm.. but it's still really a temporary sticking plaster (in my opinion anyway)
 
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Odishon

Newbie
Messages
3
Type of diabetes
Treatment type
Diet only
Hey - so I gave up drinking progressively over about a year - during which I was diagnosed T2. Not directly comparable, but the initial diagnosis in my case should really have been around fatty liver - and my guess is that this is also what you are going through, but with alcohol rather than fructose (in my case) - with withdrawal as part of the deal.

It sounds pretty awful, and I feel for you; there is a lot going on, but I suspect that most of your symptoms would be the same for anyone giving up that hard...

How did you get on with your GP?
Hi, thanks for your reply. Well done on tapering, I tried and did OK but then decided I was going to taper to complete abstinence (rather than the initially decided three-month break) and went a bit crazy for two weeks before stopping!
I have been diagnosed with fatty liver for years. Thankfully and amazingly it didn't reach the scarring stage. But yes in my case it was undoubtedly the extreme alcohol.
I cut down to between 50g and 70g of carbohydrates per day about four days before seeing the GP. There was a difference already in that the mmol results began to reduce. My GP said to do another week and go back to see him. After a week my mmol was mostly below 10, occasionally higher first thing in the morning. The GP said because of this and if I felt I could make this a way of life, he would not need to put me on further medication. I have continued to eat with around 70g or less carbs per day and the results have been incredible. On the Libre 2 app my daily bloods are now within the green zone from have been minimum 18 mmol previously. It messed with my head initially, having to deal with giving up another substance (sugar) so soon after the alcohol, especially as books on the subject were worded very similarly to the quit alcohol ones! But I'm getting to grips with it now with the help of the MyFitnessPal app. I'd rather cut carbs as well as alcohol than keep taking more medications and possibly end up on insulin. It's not a super easy way of life but then neither is being alcohol-free as it's absolutely everywhere. As they say, the only drug you have to explain to people why you've stopped!
The info on cutting carbs I got from Dr David Unwin who has got many of his patients off medication altogether.
The GP isn't really sure why my bloods skyrocketed. But he agrees that as I was drinking in excess of 140 units per week every week my body will be dealing with that change for quite a few months.
 

Odishon

Newbie
Messages
3
Type of diabetes
Treatment type
Diet only
Hi @Odishon and welcome to the forum.

I feel you may have been misinformed about the effects of Metformin. There are supposed to be 2 effects:
1. That it 'reduces the amount' of glucose that your liver produces and dumps into your blood stream.
2. That it in some way 'reduces insulin resistance'. - This I'm sceptical about, since I have never found a satisfactory explanation as to how we get insulin resistance in the first place, so, it seems a stretch to have a cure for something without knowing the cause (rather like statins and CVD).

The other thing about Metformin is that the drug has to build up in your system for days/weeks before it has any effect. Thus, you will see no effect from taking Metformin or not taking it on one single day!
Hi thanks for your reply and info on Metformin. The post was more about an increase in blood sugars after ceasing alcohol but good to know about the intention of Metformin so thanks. I have been taking Metformin for 15 years.
 

Chris24Main

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Type 2
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@Odishon - sounds like you're on the right path, and I think - any decision you take around getting a grip is going to lead to better understanding, and then that gives you more idea about your own specific condition / needs - turns out we're all unique snowflakes after all...

One thing to think about though - just have a think about what alcohol is...

... it's generally fermented sugar, so there are huge overlaps with how alcohol affects the liver, and the brain, and all sorts of things; the take away from this, is that you're already well up on how to deal with one, thing, but if you consider alcohol to really just be a special case of sugar.. it's only one thing you have to deal with..

I spent a good deal of time on MyFitnessPal - anything that works is a good thing, but after a couple of months on the high fat, low carb way of life, the idea of logging food seems like a bygone time now..

It's tough adjusting - any change is tough, your body is screaming out for the things it took for granted, but it will ease up, and (only speaking for myself) will start to feel better - not just that it's a hard thing to keep doing - you will feel much better than when you started..

One thing that is unique about alcohol.. when you get into metabolism and the difference between the body processing sugars (which we are all doing, more or less, even those of us on very near zero carbs) and processing fats - the body kind of has to stop what it's doing in order to process alcohol - it's like it goes to the front of the queue and the body can only metabolise normally after it has finished dealing with the things it needs to do with alcohol. So - my guess (and it's only a guess, I'm no doctor) is that when you have cut down dramatically on alcohol after a sustained period of regular consumption.. your body kind of goes "ah, finally, I can get on with processing all that sugar I've been meaning to get around to" - and you get a surge of sugar in the blood..


But - if I'm right, it only means that this is temporary... anyway - best of luck...
 
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USA_S10

Newbie
Messages
1
Type of diabetes
Type 2
Treatment type
Insulin
Hi,

I am a 54 year old male, diagnosed with type 2 around 15 years ago. At one point early on I managed with carb reduction and intermittent fasting to reverse the diabetes to a prediabetic level, despite being a pretty heavy drinker. I reduced my metformin to once per day. Over the past 18 months my GP has not been happy with all the 3 month blood results as they are going in the wrong direction. I told him I was trying to reduce my alcohol consumption as during the pandemic it became very high (approximately two to three bottles of wine per night). Eventually after reaching out for help it became very apparent I needed to go alcohol free after drinking for 37 years. I quit on 1st April (two months ago).
Far from feeling the benefits everyone talked about with regards to quitting alcohol I have felt more and more ill. Extreme fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches, pain receptors feeling as though they were at a 10 not a 3. I was due to see my GP three months after quitting for more bloods but now two months in I decided to check my bloods at home. They are on average first thing in the morning and throughout the day, above 18, sometimes after eating (low carb) around 27. Obviously, I have made an appointment to see my GP in three days time as this is urgent. I know alcohol does lower bloods and people with managed diabetes can have a hypo if they binge alcohol. But I can't find anyone who has given up heavy drinking and this has happened. I take Metformin twice per day at full dose now. I bought a Libre 2 monitor and my bloods don't reduce after Metformin and a medical friend suggested I have become resistant to Metformin but the alcohol was keeping my bloods down and now I'm basically a type 2 with no medication as such. I have decided I will go Keto immediately and obviously will take advice on medication from my GP. My aim though would be to be able to come off the meds if they and keto can get my bloods right down. Anyone read or had a similar situation?
Thanks.
Hello,

New to the site and a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic.

I had a similar experience of extreme BG spiking after quitting alcohol at 54. I had wanted to quite for a while and ended up tapering a few times but finally got fed up with feeling bad when I drank, and bad when I didn't, so I quit entirely in early May 2024. I was averaging 6 beers a day in the evenings and even more on the weekends for roughly a couple of decades.

I was undiagnosed with diabetes at the time but had always had signs of fatty liver and pre-diabetes in past bloodwork. It had been a couple of years since I had gotten bloodwork done (not a good patient, my fault). I needed to lose weight, exercise more, and get healthier (common theme in middle age).

Within a few weeks of alcohol cessation I began to have blurry vision (nearsightedness). I had been using 1.0 readers for a few years and just chalked this up to old age but it seemed like it happened overnight. Driving became dangerous due to the blurred vision so I got a prescription for glasses and moved on. Eye doc didn't seem concerned. What was weird also is I started to no longer need the 1.0 readers, it's like my near vision got better as my far vision got worse.

Another few weeks went by and I started to develop extreme thirst and urinating 15 times a day or more. Urine was clear and foamy. And I was sleeping a lot and very tired throughout the day. Much like OP, I was disappointed in the effects of my newfound sobriety!

I knew something was wrong and I scheduled an appt with my GP and got bloodwork on a Monday morning (I knew to fast). GP called me a few hours after the appt and said I was in diabetic ketoacidosis and my urine was acidic (high ketones). BG was 500 mg/dL. Doctor said emphatically that I needed to go to the ER right away, like right after we got off the phone.

At the ER my BG was measured as 777 mg/dL and they began insulin and potassium drips. I spent two days in the hospital until my BG was stable around 200 or so with insulin. I am under the care of an endocrinologist now and my BG stays around 90-140 depending on what I eat and when I test. I have made the diet changes and stayed off the alcohol, walking more, and taking metformin 500mg/ 1x a day, and a basal insulin of 60 units AM and now 5 units of fast insulin for meals (down from the 10-15 I started on). If I do the right things and cut some weight it is likely I can get off the insulin and maybe even the metformin long term.

This is a long story but I am convinced the total, immediate, elimination of alcohol triggered the hyperglycemic event that landed me in the hospital. Once my liver was no longer pre-occupied with handling the alcohol, the signal to process sugar was given. Sure I was diabetic before when I was drinking (unbeknownst to me), but never had the extreme symptoms that I presented to the hospital with.

Turns out the changes in vision were due to the blood sugar levels affecting the makeup of the fluid in the eye and changing the shape of the lens. As of today, I am basically back to where I was before the hyperglycemic event (1.0 readers for close work and good far vision without glasses).

Quitting heavy drinking is a good thing, but it can throw your body for a loop also when your alcohol use is chronic and you have other health issues lurking in the background.

Hope this helps OP.
 
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