Docs caution diabetic Muslims on fast now

Docs caution diabetic Muslims on fast now

Muslims around the world fast in this holy month of Ramadan from pre-dawn hours to dusk. Health experts have a word of caution for those who may be diabetic.

Diabetics undergo metabolic changes as they don’t eat anything for long, say medical experts.

“Prolonged fasting results in metabolic changes which necessitate adjustment in diabetes management plan, in terms of dietary intake and medication schedule. During Ramadan, most people take two large meals with a gap of 12 to 15 hours,” said Atul Luthra, senior consultant physician, Fortis C-Doc.

He said carbohydrate and fat intake should be kept under control to prevent blood sugar from rising rapidly during the day, or between sehari, the early morning meal prior to the beginning of the fast, and the iftar, the ritual breaking of the fast in the evening hours.

“Diabetics should not indulge in high-calorie, high-refined food. Rather they should take food with high fibre content. All patients must be aware of the warning symptoms of low blood sugar and they should not continue with the fast if the symptoms appear,” he added.

The problems diabetics face while fasting can either cause hypoglycemia (sudden fall in blood sugar levels), which can cause seizures and unconsciousness, or hyperglycemia (increase in blood sugar).

Doctors added that their condition can worsen with a “potentially life-threatening complication” called diabetic ketoacidosis which causes vomiting, dehydration, deep gasping breathing, confusion and even coma.

“They can also develop thrombosis, which leads to formation of a blood clot inside blood vessels,” Luthra warned.

Ansar Ahmad Siddique, a 45-year-old diabetic, balances his meals to keep his blood sugar level normal. “I observe Ramadan all 30 days. I do have jamun and papaya to keep my sugar level normal. However, if I face any problem, I take medicines,” the businessman said.

According to Luthra, Type 1 diabetics, or those who have a history of recurrent hypoglycemia, are at a higher risk if they fast.

S C Juneja, endocrinologist at the Diabetes and Health Care Centre in west Delhi, said only those who take insulin, which helps regulate sugar in the bloodstream, once a day can fast.

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