Muscat: Diabetics are encouraged to meet with their doctors for a medical assessment as the holy month of Ramadan begins, in order to avoid health complications.
Fasting during Ramadan is a mandatory practice that every Muslim has to follow, except the chronically ill, but those with diabetes must consult their endocrinologist prior to the advent of the holy month to assess their fitness and medical well-being, which determines if they will be able to fast or not.
Dr. Basheer, internal medicine expert, at the Badr Al Sama Hospital, said he receives between 300 and 400 patients during Ramadan, who experience difficulties while fasting.
Moderate and low risk patients are allowed to fast if they check their blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy diet, while very high risk and high risk diabetics must refrain from fasting as it could cause serious complications.
Dr. Muna Al Hikmani, senior specialist Endocrinologist and a member of the Oman Diabetes Association, said, “Low risk patients can fast, but we advise them to check their blood glucose levels during Ramadan; because if they have hypoglycaemia before iftar, they must break their fast.”
“They have to have a low carbohydrate diet and refrain from eating oily or fried food. They should do some exercise and increase their fluid intake. We will also adjust their medications,” she added.
Dr. Basheer also advised patients to eat salads and fruits, as well as juices. For Suhoor, the time most people have a last snack before going to sleep, people advised to eat a light meal.
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 325,900 cases of diabetes were recorded in Oman, where 1,235 died because of the disease.
“Nobody has died directly from diabetes. Diabetic people’s deaths are always associated with other issues, such as heart disease,” said Dr. Basheer.
35.4 million people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have diabetes and the IDF reported that the numbers will rise to 72.1 million by 2040.
According to IDF, in 2016, 14.8 per cent of Oman’s population will become diabetic.
Diabetic ketoacidosis, hypo- and hyperglycaemia, dehydration and thrombosis are the key risk factors fasting diabetics could face.
“The most dangerous are the patients, who don’t like to break their fast,” said Dr. Basheer, indicating that some people do not listen to the doctors’ advice and risk their health to fulfil religious requirements.