Ramadan 2018: Diabetics urged to fast with care

Those living with the condition encouraged to carry emergency sugar source at all times

Advice is being offered to fasting diabetics to keep them safe during Ramadan and out of hospital emergency departments.

The Dubai Diabetes Centre has highlighted a list of common precautions they can take to help avoid extra visits to the doctor during the holy month when many Muslims will be fasting during daylight hours.

A rise or drop in the blood sugar level for diabetics with Type 1 and 2 diabetes can cause serious complications.

In some cases, it can result in a loss of consciousness so diabetics have to be extremely careful when fasting.

A drop in the sugar level can cause several other symptoms such as weakness, shaking of the hands, difficulty in speech and heart palpitations.

Diabetics should carry a sugar source with them at all times and if they experience these symptoms, immediately take the sugar source and contact their doctor or emergency services depending on the urgency of the situation.

“The problem we face is that many diabetics do not realize the complications they can suffer from while fasting if they neglect taking certain precautions while fasting,” said Inaam Ibrahim Kandil, Head of Diabetes Education Coordination at the Dubai Diabetes Centre.

“Awareness is the key to ensure our patients do not face any health consequences due to fasting and keeping their blood sugar within target range as it was before they began their fasts and not indulge in eating the wrong foods.”

Dubai Health Authority statistics show that about 20 per cent of Emiratis are diabetes, as do 15 per cent of the total population. Worldwide, about 150 million Muslims have the condition.

General Guidelines to Keep in Mind:

•           Don’t skip meals (suhoor/iftar) during Ramadan.

•           Enjoy a light meal at suhoor rather than having a meal at midnight – eat wholegrain breads, oatmeal or high-fibre cereals with one cup low-fat/fat-free milk and fresh fruit.

•           At iftar, eat slowly-absorbed foods such as beans and lentils, lean meat, fish or chicken, milk or yogurt and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

•           Avoid high-calorie, processed and salty foods.

•           Limit fried and fatty foods. Measure the amount of oil used in cooking (use 1-2 tablespoons for a four-person dish).

•           Limit intake of sweets and desserts.

•           Try to stay within your carbohydrate budget.

•           Drink enough water or sugar-free beverages between iftar and suhoor to avoid dehydration.

•           Avoid overeating at meals.

•           Take your medication and/or insulin as prescribed.

•           Enjoy being physically active after iftar for at least 30 – 45 minutes on most days of the week. Tarawih prayers are considered as part of the exercise program.

Who should NOT fast?

1)    Patients who have had severe low blood glucose three months prior to Ramadan.

2)    Patient with a history of recurrent low blood glucose.

3)    Diabetic patients with low blood glucose who do not have any symptoms and unaware of the hypoglycaemia.

4)    Patient who are not controlling their diabetes well, especially those with diabetes Type 1.

5)    Those who had diabetic ketoacidosis three months prior to Ramadan.

6)    Acute illness such as infections, Flu, etc.

7)    Pregnancy.

8)    Patient on chronic dialysis.


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