Diabetic advice during Ramadan

2015-06-10 06:01

MUSLIMS observe the holy month of Ramadan by abstaining from food, drink and oral medication from dawn to dusk. Although the Qur’an specifically exempts people with a medical condition from the duty of fasting, many diabetics still choose to fast. According to the Epidiar Study Group, a population-based study of diabetes and its characteristics during the fasting month of Ramadan, conducted in 13 countries, it is estimated that 40-50 million people with diabetes, worldwide, will fast during Ramadan, which starts this year on 18 June (subject to the sighting of the new moon).

“Fasting presents significant challenges for diabetics in terms of managing blood sugar levels, which is why diabetic people should consult their doctor prior to the holy month of Ramadan to find out if they can fast and if so, plan a way to do it safely,” says Dr Aneesa Sheik, medical director of Lilly South Africa.

The lack of food and water during the day, along with a heavy evening meal, can create serious health issues for people living with diabetes, as they are faced with major disruptions to their diet and daily routines, which may lead to serious complications among which are low or high blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that there is an increased risk of severe low blood sugar levels for individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, especially for those who change the dosages of their oral medications or insulin. Blood sugar level that is too low and left untreated can cause confusion, clumsiness or fainting, and in the case of severe low blood sugar, can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. A high blood sugar level can damage blood vessels, and over a long period of time, can result in serious complications, including irreversible organ damage.

A “conversation map” tool, specific to “managing diabetes during Ramadan” was launched in 2013 and used across the country and beyond. The tool, supported by Lilly, was created by Healthy Interactions, in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). It has been used in more than 40 countries and translated into more than 30 languages.

According Dr Sheik, the tool represents an innovative approach to educating patients through conversations facilitated by IDF certified health experts. The map is created specifically for people with diabetes who choose to fast during Ramadan. It helps doctors and nurses guide their patients on how to daily manage diabetes, understand myths and facts about diabetes, the major complications to watch out for during fasting and the important habits to maintain while fasting.

Healthcare professionals who would like to use the conversation map tools for patient group consultations can contact Lilly South Africa on 011 510 9300, for more information

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