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A guide to diabetes management during Ramadan
This online guide is aimed at commissioners and providers of diabetes care. It brings together guidance and links to support health care professionals understand how to support their service users living with diabetes, who wish to fast during the holy month of Ramadan. These pages will also provide you with examples and supportive materials showcasing how you can manage the treatment of diabetes during this time. The guide has been developed using a leaflet produced by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
In the UK there are 2.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes (Diabetes UK 2012). Many of these people are Muslim and will plan to fast during Ramadan.
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar where daily fasting (not eating or drinking from dawn until dusk) is compulsory for all healthy Muslims every year. Ramadan lasts for 29-30 days each year depending on the sighting of the moon. The lunar calendar is 10 days shorter every year so from now on Ramadan will fall in the summer months and the hours of fasting each day will be much longer. Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated when the new moon is sighted after the fasting month.
For Muslims fasting is a time to go without food, liquids, tobacco, sexual activity and medication (including oral, inhaler and injected medications) between the hours of dawn until sunset. Its also a time to adopt a healthier lifestyle by observing self-control and making dietary changes. Healthy Muslims will fast whilst continuing with their day-to-day routine and will perform extra prayers, good deeds and spend more time with family and friends. Its a time for spiritual reflection, prayers and purification of the body, mind and soul.
What to do if you have Muslims patients with diabetes
If you are aware of Muslims with diabetes who are thinking of fasting during the month of Ramadan then the first port of call would be a planned visit to the Diabetes Team before Ramadan, for advice on how to manage diabetes during this time. This might mean booking an appointment at least 2 months before the start of Ramadan. It is important to discuss any medication changes before fasting begins. If the management of diabetes is not assessed, Muslims with diabetes may be at risk of hypoglycaemia (where the blood glucose levels fall to less than 4 mmol/l). Muslims could also have high blood glucose levels during this time, which could lead to health problems in the short and long term.
- Does everyone have to fast?
- What happens to your body during fasting?
- Being safe whilst fasting
- To fast or not to fast?
- Food choices for Ramadan
- Exercise and smoking
- What is Hypoglycaemia?
Useful Points to remember
- Not everybody needs to fast and Islam states that anyone who would be putting their health at serious risk by fasting are exempt i.e. people with diabetes.
- Muslims need to contact their Diabetes Team before Ramadan for advice on how to manage their diabetes at this time.
- A hypo is a blood glucose level of less than 4mmol/l and must be treated by breaking a Muslims fast.
- To keep themselves safe, Muslims whilst fasting need to test their blood glucose regularly. Blood glucose monitoring does not break their fast.
- What is Ramadan?
- Is it safe to fast with diabetes during Ramadan? - a discussion on the impact and effects of fasting with Diabetes during Ramadan
- Looking after diabetes during Ramadan - a guide for patients (PDF 538.1KB)
- Ramadan health guide - a guide to health fasting (PDF 1.2MB)
- Diabetes UK - Diabetes and Ramadan
- Healthy fasting during Ramadan, Department of Health
- Heatwave Plan for England 2012, Department of Health -Includes heat health advice during Ramadan
- NHS Choices Guide to Healthy Fasting
- NHS Choices Healthy Ramadan Meal Plan