Sirinie Takieddine, Clinical Dietician, RAK Diabetes Centre, Jumeirah, Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: For a diabetic patient, fasting can be both tricky and challenging. Therefore it’s important that diabetics should take extra precaution and follow their doctor’s advice to ensure that they are physically able to fast for long hours. Unfortunately, not many people take this into consideration and this can potentially lead to severe health side effects.

The signs of concern before starting fast are: poorly controlled blood sugars and high and low blood pressure and cholesterol level, among other such conditions. While anyone with such condition should be careful, those suffering Type 1 diabetes who take insulin or are Type 2 on a mixed insulin regimen need extra care and precaution.

If a diabetic patient is able to fast, then again there are certain risk factors that s/he should be aware of. One of them is low blood sugar, and in such a case the patient should contact the doctor for a change in medication, particularly if one is on insulin. Moreover, diabetics should take care not to exercise during the fasting hours but they can be more active after iftar.

Another cause of concern is the high blood sugar levels that people experience after iftar, mainly because of overeating after long hours of fasting. It is, therefore, essential that diabetics visit a dietitian for practical guidelines to follow in terms of portion sizes for suhour, iftar and post-iftar meals. While iftar meal is a celebration, one should always be aware of the calorie intake to avoid weight gain and uncontrolled blood sugars.

At no time should diabetic patients stop their medication during fasting. However, they should consult their doctor who may either change the timings or also change the doses.

When should a diabetic patient break his/her fast? It is important for diabetics to check their blood sugar level regularly during fasting hours and if it falls below 70ml/dl then they should break the fast since their health is at risk. Break the fast with either half a cup of fresh juice, or glucose tablets (total of 15g carbohydrates) or sugar candy if nothing else is available or water mixed with one tablespoon of sugar. If the blood sugar is still below 70mg/dl after 15 minutes then the patient will need to take one of the above mentioned options again. The blood sugar should be checked again after 15 minutes to ensure that it has gone above 70ml/dl.

- The writer is Clinical Dietician, RAK Diabetes Centre, Jumeirah, Dubai