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Medical update vital for diabetics planning to fast

Dubai Diabetes Centre highlights precautions patients can’t overlook

Gulf News

Dubai: Diabetics planning to fast during Ramadan need to take extra precautions and check beforehand if they are medically capable of fasting, doctors have advised.

While diabetics are exempt from fasting due to the adverse effects it may have on their health, many are keen to follow the rituals of Ramadan.

Doctors from the Dubai Diabetes Centre, a specialised multi-disciplinary diabetes care and management centre of Dubai Health Authority, said diabetics need to follow certain precautions if they plan to fast in order to maintain their sugar levels.

“Everyone needs to follow certain precautions while fasting, but diabetics have to take extra precautions because their body does not have the ability to control fluctuations in blood sugar level,” said Dr M. Hamed Farooqi, Director of the Dubai Diabetes Centre.

He added that the most important step for any diabetic who chooses to fast is to ensure he visits his health practitioner so that the doctor can advise whether it is safe for him to fast and to gauge whether his body will be able to manage long hours of fasting.

“Once that is ascertained, the patient needs to modify the medication dosage — usually lower the dosage — to ensure they maintain their sugar levels.”

He pointed out that diabetics also experience dehydratation faster especially when their sugar levels rise. He also said that both a rise or drop in the sugar level for diabetics with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can cause serious complications, like loss of consciousness.

“A drop in the sugar level can cause several other symptoms such as weakness, shaking of the hands, difficulty in speech, heart palpitations etc. This situation occurs due to low sugar and excess insulin in the body. This can happen in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.”

Farooqi said it is important for diabetics to carry a sugar source with them at all times and, if they experience these symptoms, they should immediately consume it and contact their doctor or emergency services depending on the urgency of the situation.

“On the other hand, a condition called Diabetic Ketoacidosis can occur in people with Type 1 diabetes when there is no insulin in the body. This happens if the long acting insulin dose is missed and can also cause the patient to fall into a coma. Therefore, the insulin should be taken properly and on time,” he explained.

Inaam Ebrahim Kandil, Head of Diabetes Education Coordination at the Dubai Diabetes Centre, advised diabetics to not indulge in eating the wrong foods and try to keep their sugar levels within the target range as it was before they began their fasts.

Meanwhile, Manal Al Buflasa, Senior Nurse Educator at the centre emphasized that while diabetics are keen to adhere to the rituals of Ramadan, it is permitted to end the fast when a diabetic goes through any complications while fasting during the day. She also highlighted the fact that self-monitoring of blood sugar is permitted during fasting and should be effectively utilised to avoid hypoglycemia. “This should be done as soon as the patient notices any of the associated symptoms of blood sugar fluctuations.”

General guidelines:

• Do not skip Suhour/Iftar meals.

• Enjoy a light meal at Suhour rather than having a meal at midnight — eat wholegrain breads, oatmeal or high-fibre cereals with one cup of low-fat/fat-free milk and one to two pieces of fresh fruit.

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