Free Press Journal

How to manage diabetes during fasting



New Delhi: Diabetic patients who fast during Ramadan are likely to be at risk of major health complications. Hence they should fast only if their doctors consider them fit enough, experts say. The month-long period that is typically marked by long fasting hours during daylight hours is followed by grand feast each evening after sunset (Iftaar), which can be continued till pre-dawn (Sehri).

According to health experts, such long gaps between meals that range from 12 to 15 hours may lead to metabolic changes in the body, which can pose serious health problems for diabetes patients, reports IANS.

Diabetes is a health condition that occurs when sugar rises in the blood as a result of deficiency in the insulin hormone or the resistance of the body cells leading to the accumulation of glucose in the blood.

“Long fasting, combined with food intake two-three times over a short span of time may cause wide fluctuation in sugar levels,” Rakesh Kumar Prasad, Senior Consultant (Department of Endocrinology) at Fortis Hospital, Noida, told IANS.

Diabetics while fasting can either face hypoglycemia — a sudden fall in blood sugar levels — which can cause seizures and unconsciousness or hyperglycemia — increase in blood sugar — which may cause blurry vision, headaches, increased fatigue and thirst.

Type 1 diabetics, or those who have a history of recurrent hypoglycemia, are at a higher risk if they fast. “Patients are required to monitor their blood glucose level at regular intervals. In case a patient is on insulin, there may be a need to change its dosage,” Shehla Shaikh, Consultant (Endocrinologist) from Mumbai’s Wockhardt Hospitals, pointed out.

Doctors said the condition of diabetics can worsen with a “potentially life-threatening complication” called diabetic ketoacidosis — a serious complication in which the body produces excess blood acids (ketones) and which causes vomiting, dehydration, deep gasping breathing, confusion and even coma. They can also develop thrombosis, which leads to formation of a blood clot.

“Doctors and patients must work together on how to organise medication and diet schedules so that diabetes is managed effectively during the 30 days of Ramadan,” A. Ramachandran, founder of Chennai’s Dr. A. Ramachandran’s Diabetes Hospital, told IANS. Ideally, one should consult a doctor a month in advance and follow the advice given on diet, insulin dosage and any other medication prescribed, the doctors suggested.