Doctors urge Muslims with chronic medical conditions not to risk health in Ramadan
Islam requires all Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. However, there are exceptions for people who are ill or have medical conditions. This includes people with diabetes.
With Ramadan approaching, Pakistanis doctors have urged people to ensure their medication is up to date and to not risk their health by fasting.
“Islam exempts people from the duty of fasting if they are sick, or if fasting may affect their health, as fasting for patients with diabetes carries a risk of an assortment of complications, including hypoglycemia, postprandial hyperglycemia, and metabolic complications, associated with dehydration” warns Dr. Sheraz Khan.
He was addressing a seminar “Roza aur Sehat” (Fasting and Health) organized by Shifa International Hospital (SIH) to create awareness in diabetic patients intended to observe fasting without harming their blood glucose level.
Consultant Endocrinologist SIH Dr Sheraz Khan said that the approximate number of Muslims with diabetes is around 4.6 per cent and there are about 50 million Muslims with diabetes around the world who observe fasting during the month of Ramadan each year.
Diabetic patients often create medical challenges for themselves and their health-care providers when they choose to fast against the advice of doctors and the permission received from religious authorities.
It is thus important for patients with diabetes who wish to fast during Ramazan to make necessary preparations in this connection, he stressed.
Consultant Endocrinologist at Shifa Hospital, Dr. Tayyab Badshah urged patients to self-monitor their health during Ramadan. “Clinical experience suggests some patients may cease treatment altogether in order to observe the fast which may lead to more severe health problems.”
Dr. Tayyab Badshah shared these precautions for diabetic patients during Ramadan:
- Talk to your doctor or diabetes team before fasting.
- Testing your blood glucose levels is important and it does not break the fast. If you have a blood testing meter, test your glucose levels regularly.
- Make sure someone you know is aware that you are fasting.
- Continue taking your diabetes medicine as per advice of your doctor regarding dosage and timings.
- Always carry your glucose tablets, glucose gel or a sugary drink in case of a hypo. This may need to be followed up with a snack like a piece of fruit, biscuit or half a sandwich.
- Finally, if you are ill it is important that you break your fast.
Clinical Dietitian, Shifa International Hospital (SIH) Zainab Ghayyor advised the patients to monitor their blood glucose regularly during the fast, especially in the early days. She advised patients to:
- Watch out for eating too many sweets and keep the portion sizes moderate. Overeating is a big risk.
- Continue taking your diabetes medicine, regarding dosage and timings talk to your doctor.
- If you experience hypoglycemic symptoms, it is advisable to break the fast and make up for it after Ramadan.
She said that suhoor meal should contain a balance of whole grain sources of complex carbohydrates as well as some protein from lean sources of meat, fish and poultry, small amounts of heart healthy fats, limit added sugars this will slow the digestion and the feeling of fullness last as long as possible into the day.
“Include fresh fruits, vegetables, and yogurt in your meals. Limit the dates (khajoor) to two or three pieces. Avoid exercise during the day, and take rest when possible to help avoid lowering of blood glucose levels. Limit physical activity during fasting hours and be more active after sunset,” she suggested.
Head of Religious Affairs, Shifa International Hospital (SIH) Azmatullah Quraishi while highlighting the importance of fasting in Islam and its positive and spiritual impacts, said that Islam exempts people from the duty of fasting if they are sick or if fasting may affect their health. Some health practices that do not affect fast are: use of injection (except nutritional injection), using asthmatic inhaler and donating blood, vomiting, and pouring medicines into the eyes or ears. Those exempt from fasting during Ramadan, however, are required to offer meal a needy person (two meals – as fidya or compensation for one fast), or fast in later daya. he stated.