Dr Prakash Pania, consultant endocrinologist at Aster Jubilee Medical Complex, Dubai

Dubai: With only a few minutes left for iftar, a beastly growl rises in the belly and hands begin to tighten their grip on the steering wheel… is fasting causing us to drive recklessly during Ramadan?

Research conducted at the University of Leuven, Belgium, found that reduction in sleep time during Ramadan slightly increases the feeling of sleepiness.

A report published in 2013 by Emirates Driving Institute (EDI), states that this lack of sleep can cause impaired driving performance, irritability and daytime drowsiness.

The resultant lack of concentration or day dreaming can lead to a lower reaction time in motorists, causing them to miss road signs or exits, change driving speed without realising and display increased impatience with other drivers.

Motorists who have diabetes must be even more careful in Ramadan, according to Dr Prakash Pania, consultant endocrinologist at Aster Jubilee Medical Complex, Dubai, who warned of the effects of low blood sugar levels when fasting.

At risk of hypoglycemia, when the blood sugar level falls to 70mg/dl or lower, symptoms include a sensation of hunger, weakness, tiredness, and dizziness. It is at this stage that those who drive can pose a serious threat to themselves and others.

Dr Pania said: “The symptoms of hypoglycemia get more pronounced as the duration of fast increases, invariably leading to loss of focus and impaired judgment while driving.”

According to diabetes.co.uk, staying in lane may take more concentration, in this state, and people will become more fatigued, finding it more difficult to make decisions and to focus their vision.

Those with any symptoms of hypoglycemia should immediately park in a safe place, take a break and test their blood sugar level.

Otherwise, Dr Pania said: “It can lead to increased rates of accidents as people drive rashly to reach their homes on time for iftar.”

He added: “It is imperative to educate people that frequently self monitoring blood sugar levels during the fasting period is allowed and doesn’t amount to breaking of the fast. This way they can keep a track of their blood sugars and be confident of fasting uninterruptedly.”

If blood sugar drops below 60mg/dl, the person should break his/her fast, according to Dr Pania.