islamabad  - Around 50 million Muslims with diabetes around the world observe fast during the holy month of Ramzan and Islam exempts people from the duty if they are facing serious health problems, said health experts on Saturday.  

Shifa International Hospital (SIH) organised a seminar on “Roza aur Sehat” to create awareness among diabetic patients intended to observe fasting without harming their blood glucose level. 

Consultant Endocrinologist SIH Dr Sheraz Khan said that the approximately number of Muslims with diabetes is around 4.6 per cent and people with diabetes carries a risk of an assortment of complications, including hypoglycemia, postprandial hyperglycemia, and metabolic complications, associated with dehydration. He said nevertheless, a large number of people with diabetes who still choose to fast during Ramazan despite the advice of their doctor, and the permission received from religious authorities thus create medical challenges for themselves and their health-care providers.  

It is thus important for patients with diabetes who wish to fast during Ramazan to make necessary preparations in this connection, he underlined.  

Consultant Endocrinologist Shifa International Hospital (SIH) Dr Tayyab Badshah said that patients may be reluctant to self-monitor during Ramazan. Clinical experience suggests some patients may cease treatment altogether to observe fast or because they feel changing time of treatment may render it ineffective.  Unwillingness to self-treat hypoglycaemia symptoms by breaking the fast may lead to more severe hypoglycaemia. This represents a key challenge for patients with diabetes during Ramadan.  

He added that the 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. Talk to your doctor or diabetes team before fasting.  

Look for signs of hyperglycaemia, hypoglycaemia and dehydration. Make sure someone you know is aware that you are fasting. 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. 

Patient should monitor blood glucose regularly during the fast, especially in the early days. Continue taking your diabetes medicine as per advice of your doctor regarding dosage and timings. “Control your Diabetes for two months prior to Ramadan bringing HbA1c to < 8 and continue Diabetic diet in Iftaar and Sahur,” Dr Tayyab advised.   

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.  

Nevertheless, many people with diabetes still choose to fast during Ramadan against the advice of their doctors, as they perceive themselves as healthy and able to fast.