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'Muslim diabetics must fast carefully'

mumbai Updated: Aug 17, 2012 00:45 IST
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A diabetes patient for six years, Saira, 44, (name changed) had bouts of dizziness and excessive sweating when she started fasting during Ramzan.

On July 10, she fainted in her house. She was taken to Dr Shehla Shaikh, an endocrinologist, and diagnosed with severe hypoglycemia or low sugar level in the blood.

"Though she was uncomfortable during the first few days of the fast, she continued it thinking if she came to me, I would tell her to stop fasting. She was on long-lasting oral medication. I changed her doses and told her not to fast for 48 hours after she had fainted. She has been able to fast since then," said Dr Shaikh.

Doctors said Muslims suffering from diabetes should be careful while fasting and get their medicine dosage adjusted and dietary requirements cleared by a doctor.

"Patients can suffer palpitations, sweating, convulsion and even coma because of severe hypoglycemia. Some break their fast with high-calorie food, which gets their blood sugar level shooting," said Dr Shaikh.

This year, a paper written by several endocrinologists across the country and published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism charted out guidelines for diabetics during Ramzan. It states: "It is obligatory for all adult Muslims to observe fast during the holy month of Ramadan, but sick individuals, including those with diabetes mellitus, are exempted from the duty of fasting. Specific medical advice must be provided to individual patients concerning the potential risks they must accept if they decide to fast."

Post-Ramzan, people should not binge on rich food. "The common problems that occur owing to eating rich food include indigestion and gastritis. We have had cases of intestinal obstruction involving partial or complete blockage of the bowel, some of which had to be treated with surgery," said Dr Shahid Barmare, consulting physician, Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla.

After Ramzan, people should convert their meals from two major meals to three small ones, said doctors.