Local GPs give advice to people with diabetes during Ramadan
As Muslims across Bradford district and Craven prepare for the holy month of Ramadan, local GPs issue advice to help those with diabetes fast safely.
The holy month of Ramadan begins next week, Monday 12 April 2021, when many Muslims will be fasting from sunrise to sunset.
Most people with diabetes are able to observe the fast whilst controlling their condition throughout Ramadan, as long as they take care of themselves and know what signs to look out for if their health does begin to suffer. However, fasting may be more risky for people who have complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease. In these cases, people should speak to their GP or practice nurse for advice before deciding whether to fast.
Steps that people with diabetes can take to manage their conditions whilst fasting include:
- being aware of the differences that 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
- eating more slowly absorbed food such as basmati rice, dhal and fruit and vegetables in your meal before you begin your fast
- trying to eat just before sunrise, when you commence the next day’s fast
- making sure to only have small quantities of food when breaking fast and avoid eating sweet or fatty foods
- checking blood glucose levels more often than you would when not fasting
- making sure you drink plenty of sugar-free and decaffeinated fluids at the end of your fast to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Dr Waqas Tahir, local GP and diabetes lead for Bradford district and Craven said: “Making yourself aware of the steps you can take to help manage diabetes during the holy month can prevent potential complications.
“Islam forbids us from fasting if it will harm our body and this could include people with more severe diabetes. As the nights get shorter and the days longer, people with diabetes can be at a higher risk of hypoglycaemia (known as ‘hypos’ for short), which is when the blood sugar levels 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, known as hyperglycaemia.
“Hypos, high glucose levels and dehydration, can pose serious health risks to people with diabetes. However, this does not mean that a person with diabetes cannot fast, but it is worth knowing the risks, knowing your body, and your warning signs will ensure 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.”
There is lots of information available online to support people to manage their diabetes during Ramadan:
- The Diabetes UK website has information in different languages for people fasting during Ramadan: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/ramadan
- International Diabetes Federation YouTube video on understanding your risk before fasting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1lr595oB6I
- A YouTube video by local GP, Dr Junaid Azam: https://youtu.be/6JwMbhCg7e8
Ramadan will be different this year for Muslims living in Bradford district and Craven as everyone must follow the latest Government lockdown guidance to control the spread of coronavirus.
Dr Tahir adds: “We strongly advise that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus, which include a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, to consider breaking their fast. Dehydration from fasting can increase your risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, and drinking fluids to stay hydrated is really important.”
You can check on your symptoms and what to do if you think you have coronavirus on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus