Diabetes is a life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious health complications. If you have Diabetes then fasting can also increase your risk of developing low blood glucose levels or Hypoglycaemia.
Fasting is one of the five key pillars of the Islamic faith and during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world will fast from the time of Fajr (the dawn prayer) until sunset.
Traditionally all adult Muslims are required to fast however there are exemptions for pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who are menstruating, those with health conditions and older people.
Although those with Type 1 Diabetes and the most severe levels of Type 2 Diabetes are exempt from fasting during Ramadan according to Muslim scholars, many Muslim patients still choose to fast.
At an event organised by Pear Tree Medical Centre earlier this month Dr Idrees from the Royal Derby Hospital shared advice for those with diabetes wishing to observe the fast.
Dr Idrees recommended that you:
- Drink 2–3 litres of water between iftari and sehri to help reduce the risk of dehydration
- Eat complex carbohydrates before the daily fast.
- Self-test your blood sugar and remember that anything below 3.3 or above 20 is dangerous and may require hospital admission. If you are concerned by your blood sugar levels please contact 111 for non-urgent advice or dial 999 in an emergency*. You can read more about Hypoglycaemia and its symptoms on the NHS website.
- Certain medication lowers blood sugars and may be unsuitable for diabetics to take during Ramadan. Visit your GP and ask whether your diabetes medication is suitable to take during Ramadan and whether there are any alternative medications.
- Tell your GP that you are intending to fast and ask whether you should have a HbA1C test and kidney function test. A kidney function test is recommended before starting to fast as it will highlight whether your health will allow you to fast safely.
With special thanks to Sajda Kausar, Public Health Community Engagement Manager at Derby City Council and Mike Newbold, Practice Manager at Peartree Medical Centre.
*If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired and need advice, you can send an SMS message to 999 in the UK and a member of the emergency services will respond to you. Please register your mobile phone for this service in advance – more information can be found online. Details about the 111 service, including British Sign Language options, are available on the NHS website.