Ramadan 2021: Dos and don'ts for diabetics while fasting

Abu Dhabi - Health experts urge blood sugar tests daily


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Wed 14 Apr 2021, 11:33 AM

Last updated: Wed 14 Apr 2021, 11:34 AM

People, who suffer from diabetes, need to seek the advice of a doctor before considering fasting during the Holy month of Ramadan, which started on Tuesday, health experts suggested.

The diabetic patients have been urged to check their blood sugar levels during Ramadan.

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Dr Farhana bin Lootah, an internal medical consultant at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), a Mubadala Health partner, said diabetic patients would need to know the health risks.

She listed four primary risks of fasting for a diabetic patient such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), dehydration, and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

The DKA is a medical condition, which involves high sugar levels along with formation of excess acidic toxins in the blood.

Usually, people with type 1 diabetes are exempt from fasting and some with type 2 diabetes are also advised to refrain.

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Doctors take into account the medical parametres of a diabetic patient before advising the person whether h/she would be fit to keep the fast.

If the patient is found to be fit to keep the fast, h/she would need to check the blood sugar levels several times during a day. The levels are likely to fluctuate if a patient eats a big iftar meal.

Self-monitoring of glucose levels is essential and approved both in religious and medical practices.

“Religious scholars agree that taking blood samples either by finger-pricking or by a needle from arm veins to check blood-sugar levels does not invalidate the fast. Doctors agree it is important to perform the tests, as they help patients fast safely,” said Dr bin Lootah.

Suggested timings for glucose monitoring

She said the recommended frequency of blood tests would depend on the level of diabetes control and the category of blood sugar that a patient is suffering from. A minimum of one or two tests daily is recommended for people suffering type 2 diabetes and could go up to three for those afflicted with type 1 variant of the disease.

She suggested that the blood tests be carried out before Suhoor, during mid-morning, mid-day, before iftar and another two hours after iftar.

Also, the tests can be conducted if a patient has a low, high blood sugar level, or feeling unwell.

Dr bin Lootah said diabetic patients should be prepared to immediately break their fast if they have any of the following signs: blood sugar level of less than 70 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl), blood sugar level of more than 300 mg/dl, symptoms of low blood sugar such as feeling dizzy, sweating profusely, blurred vision, confusion or inability to think clearly, loss of consciousness and symptoms of acute illness like vomiting and diarrhoea).

Diabetic patients have been advised to drink plenty of water during non-fasting hours to avoid the increased risk of dehydration.

“With appropriate planning and monitoring, and by enlisting the help of a medical expert, a diabetic person will be far better equipped to handle the unique set of challenges that the patient faces during Ramadan,” she added.


Photo: Alamy.ae
Photo: Alamy.ae

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