Doctors in Bradford and Craven encourage diabetics to fast safely during Ramadan
As Muslims across the district prepare for what will be a very different holy month of Ramadan due to the coronavirus pandemic, local doctors are encouraging people with diabetes to fast safely.
GPs at NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are advising Muslim patients with diabetes about how best to control their condition while fasting during Ramadan.
Ramadan begins this week with a month of fasting between sunrise to sunset. As the days are getting longer this could potentially mean that people will not eat or drink for up to 15 hours. This could pose a risk to the health of those who have diabetes or other long-term health conditions.
Dr Waqas Tahir, local GP and diabetes lead in Bradford said: “Most people with diabetes can fast without any issues, as long as they take care of themselves and know the warning signs if their health begins to suffer.
“However, if you have diabetes and use insulin or have long-term health conditions, you should seek advice from your GP or practice nurse before you begin your fast. People can still contact their GP and appointments are available – even if people don’t have any coronavirus symptoms and are not self-isolating.
“Local GPs and practice staff are still here to help and appointments are still available by calling your GP practice or going online as you usually would; we just ask that you do not attend your practice in person.”
Actively supporting Muslims with diabetes to manage their condition during Ramadan helps to prevent potential complications during this important period of religious observance and family and community celebrations.
A few key pieces of advice for people with diabetes who intend to fast for Ramadan are:
- ensure you’re aware of the differences fasting will mean if you are taking insulin; those wishing to fast will need less insulin on a morning before the start of their fast
- eat more slowly absorbed food such as basmati rice, dhal and fruit and vegetables in your meal before you begin your fast (Suhoor or Sehri)
- try to eat just before sunrise, when you commence the next day’s fast
- make sure to only have small quantities of food when breaking your fast and avoid eating sweet or fatty foods
- check your blood glucose levels more often than you would when not fasting
- ensure you drink plenty of sugar-free and decaffeinated fluids at the end of your fast to avoid becoming dehydrated
Dr Tahir added: “Islam forbids us from fasting if it will harm our body and this could include people with more severe diabetes. As the nights are getting shorter and the days longer, people with diabetes can be at a higher risk of hypoglycaemia (known as ‘hypos’ for short), which is when your blood sugars can drop too low. If people eat large meals before fasting at Suhoor (Sehri) and after fasting at Iftar, they can run the risk of having very high glucose levels called hyperglycaemia.
“Hypos, high glucose levels and dehydration, especially as the weather hopefully gets warmer, can pose serious health risks to people with diabetes. However, this does not mean that a person with diabetes cannot fast, just that it is worth understanding the risks, knowing your body and its warning signs and ensuring you stay safe while observing Ramadan.
“If you have diabetes and feel like you are having a hypo during your fast please seek urgent medical attention – local healthcare services are still here to help.”
A YouTube video by local GP, Dr Junaid Azam shares advice about managing diabetes during Ramadan and is available on the CCGs’ YouTube channel https://youtu.be/6JwMbhCg7e8
Other useful patient resources include:
- Factsheets about fasting during Ramadan in English, Urdu, Bengali and Arabic can be found by visiting diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Managing-your-diabetes/Ramadan
- The Muslim Council of Britain online guidance on observing a safe #RamadanAtHome during the Covid-19 lockdown at: https://mcb.org.uk/resources/ramadan/
- The Diabetes and Ramadan – Know your risk before fasting YouTube video produced by the International Diabetes Federation at: https://youtu.be/Q1lr595oB6I
Ramadan will be very different this year for Muslims living in Bradford district and Craven as everyone must follow Government social distancing guidance and stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
People are being encouraged to look at how they can still follow national guidance during Ramadan and to consider using free video conferencing tools to stay connected – perhaps to pray with others or break the fast virtually.
To help fight coronavirus, the single most important action we can all take is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. For the latest information on coronavirus, people should visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or www.gov.uk/coronavirus.