For diabetes patients fasting during Ramadan is a personal choice but consult your doctor first

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Pune, June 13, 2016: In the coming holy month of Ramadan, India’s 180 million Muslims, the third largest in the world, will prepare to fast every day for 30 days, as a form of prayer, giving and self-evaluation.

The Ramadan fast is a long one with the gap between meals ranging from 12 to 15 hours and this can pose a health problem for diabetes patients, since they are required to have regular meals on time. Fasting results in metabolic changes and calls for an adjustment in the diabetes management plan.

“Speak to your endocrinologist/doctor before Ramadan as you may need a change in medication during the period of fasting. It is advised to monitor blood sugar level at various intervals as per your doctor’s suggestion. Keep a lookout for warning signs and contact your doctor immediately in case of any discomfort. Diabetes drugs need to be adjusted during Ramadan after consultation with your doctor. It is important to follow the diet and medication that your doctor sets for you to keep diabetes under control during the month of Ramadan,” said Dr. Shailaja Kale, Diabetologist, Orange Diabetes Foundation.

Adult patients with type 1 diabetes who have a history of recurrent hypoglycemia are at a higher risk if they fast. Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia may also occur in patients with type 2 diabetes but less frequently and with less severe consequences as compared to patients with type 1 diabetes.

Some complications associated with fasting for diabetics include:

  • Sudden fall in blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia), causing seizures and unconsciousness
  • An inordinate increase in blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) causing blurry vision, headache, increased fatigue and thirst
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening complication causing vomiting, dehydration and coma
  • Thrombosis which leads to formation of a blood clot inside blood vessels, potentially a precursor to organ damage and even death

Preparing for Ramadan:

  • Consult your doctor a month in advance and follow the medical advice given on diet and medication. The type of food permitted and the frequency of monitoring will differ for each patient. The doctor might also regulate the dosage and timing of the medicines.
  • In general, frequent monitoring is key to safe fasting for diabetics. It is critical for patients to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day.

For diabetic patients the decision to fast should be made keeping in mind religious guidelines for exemption and after careful medical consultation to ensure a safe and healthy Ramadan.