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Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims devote themselves to their faith and fast from sunrise to sunset, starts on Sunday 5 May.
Lasting until Tuesday 4 June, the Ramadan fasting period is obligatory for almost all Muslims. Although certain groups are exempt for health and other reasons, some people with diabetes are keen to observe the fast, although the long daylight hours in the UK at this time of the year makes it a challenging time, even for those without medical conditions.
Diabetes UK has highlighted that: “long fasts of 15 hours or more can put people at higher risk of hypoglycaemia and dehydration, which can make you ill”.
To help people to fast safely, the diabetes clinical steering group from Hertfordshire and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) is encouraging people to seek advice from their GP and Imam before starting their fast and has encouraged people to bear in mind this practical advice:
Jenne Patel, Diabetes Quality Improvement Manager, Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, added:
“People with diabetes who fast are at risk of experiencing high and low blood glucose levels. They also need to be aware that there are changes to the body during fasting, so they may need to change when and how they take any medication that they rely on. Speak to your community pharmacist for individual advice.”
Professor Jim McManus, Director of Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, said:
“Fasting can be good for us, as many faiths will attest; it can however also have risks if you have ongoing health conditions. You may be exempt from fasting but even if you’re exempt and want to fast, particularly if you have diabetes, you should get medical advice before you fast, and take care when you break the fast.”
Ramadan this year starts on the evening of Sunday 5 May and ending in the evening of Tuesday 4 June.
The Qur’an states that those who are exempt from fasting include:
Table of risks and associated advice
High risk conditions – where fasting is not advised
Moderate risk – May fast if patient and health-care professionals are happy, with collaboration of care between all involved
Low risk - Should be able to fast with advice