Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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We’re urging the Muslim community to stay safe and ‘fighting fit’ during Ramadan

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to stay safe whilst celebrating Ramadan this year. That’s why we’ve teamed up with professional boxer Muhammad Ali to share our five top tips to help the Muslim community with diabetes stay healthy and safe throughout the month of Ramadan.

Celebrating Ramadan this year

Ramadan runs from around 23 April for 29 or 30 days, and ends with Eid al-Fitr, a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide. Although the Qur'an requires Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset, there are exceptions. People who are ill or have medical conditions do not have to fast – including those with diabetes. However, fasting is a personal choice and some people may still choose to fast.

This year, Ramadan also falls when the suspected peak of the coronavirus pandemic could take place. That’s why we want to remind those marking the occasion to do so safely by adhering to social distancing rules and fasting in a healthy way to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

Our five top tips

  • If you are unwell or have any symptoms of coronavirus – do not fast.
  • If you do choose to fast, include more slowly absorbed foods with a low glycaemic index in your meal before you start. These could include foods such as basmati rice and dhal, along with fruit and vegetables.
  • If you already check your blood sugar (glucose) levels, make sure to do this more than usual during your fast.
  • When you break the fast, eat small quantities of food, and avoid only eating sweet or fatty foods.
  • Stay at home – do not be tempted to visit family, friends or the mosque during this time.

Professional boxer Muhammad Ali lives with type 1 diabetes and has filmed a new video to share these tips on staying well during Ramadan. He's also shared his story with us, so you can learn more about his journey with diabetes so far. 

 

We’ve got more information for people with diabetes who are thinking about fasting during Ramadan, as well as factsheets in different languages to help you manage your condition if you do decide to fast. We’ve also got tips to help you manage your diabetes whilst staying at home during the pandemic.

Muhammad Ali said: 

“Ramadan is a special time for the Muslim community, but for those with diabetes there are increased risks and it’s important that everyone does their best to stay fighting fit during this pandemic – in order to help the NHS.

As a boxer with diabetes I always say I’m just like any other ordinary person and that life is not about waiting for the storm to pass by; but learning to weather the storm. These five top tips are easy to do and follow and make living with diabetes during Ramadan that little bit safer.”

Daniel Howarth, Head of Care, said: 

“We know that ultimately it is a personal choice whether or not to fast, but if you do choose to fast when you have diabetes, you must take extra precautions to make sure you are not putting your health at risk.  

That’s because if you have diabetes, fasting can risk aggravating complications associated with the condition, such as poor vision, heart or kidney disease, hypoglycaemia and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – conditions that can require emergency hospital treatment. 
 
If you’re fasting and you feel that you are having a hypo, you must break your fast and take some sugary fluids followed by starchy food as otherwise you will harm your body and may need medical attention. You can find further advice on our website. 
 
If you’re showing any symptom of COVID-19, our advice would be not to fast.”

If you need medical help

We want to reassure people who experience hypos, DKA or other serious diabetes complications to seek medical advice when they need it. Please do not let fears you may have about catching coronavirus stop you from getting help. 

  • For life-threatening emergencies please call 999. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
  • For non-life-threatening emergencies, please consider other options before dialling 999 if you or the person you’re with doesn’t need immediate medical attention. These include using the NHS 111 online service, or calling 111 if you don’t have internet access. You could also talk to a pharmacist, or call or email your GP practice or diabetes team. 
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