Health Scan: Diabetics who fast must get medical advice – HEALTH & SCIENCE


People who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and thus do not have to fast, but who nevertheless do fast, can cause themselves harm if they don’t consult with a medical expert. So says endocrinologist Dr. Zaina Adnan of the Zvulun clinic of Clalit Health Services in Kiryat Bialik near Haifa.

During the month of Ramadan, healthy Muslim adults are bound by their religion to abstain from food, drink and tobacco every day from sunrise to sunset (many teens do so as well). They eat two large daily meals during the month – the Suhoor in the predawn hours and the Iftar after sunset. While diabetics are not required to fast, many do so anyway, writes Adnan in a recent article in the Israel Medical Association Journal.

It is believed that the prevalence of diabetes is significantly higher (10.3%), for genetic and lifestyle reasons, in the Israeli Arab population than in the general population (8.4%). Thus, observance of Ramadan among them is problematic. Diabetics who take insulin and/or drugs may develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when fasting or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) when gorging on food. Overindulging may also cause weight gain, which is harmful to such patients.

With Tisha Be’Av around the corner, it should be noted that additional health dangers to diabetics include thrombosis and dehydration. The elderly, those with weak kidneys and those with other chronic conditions listed in the article are at very high risk as a result of the fast, Adnan continues.

She urges diabetics who fast to be evaluated by experienced physicians or diabetes nurses to determine whether they should be allowed to abstain from food and drink. If they can fast, they must get advice on what drugs, including injected insulin, to take and when.

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