Doctors warn Muslims with diabetes over Ramadan fasting

Muslims with type 2 diabetes in Ireland who intend to fast during the upcoming Ramadan are being warned that advance planning with their doctor is vital to avoid developing acute complications.

Many Muslims with diabetes may choose to fast during Ramadan – the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed worldwide as a month of fasting – despite guideline recommendations for the management of diabetes during this time.

There are an estimated 49,204 Muslims in Ireland, according to the latest CSO figures, representing a sharp increase over the previous five years. Ireland's Muslim population includes 8,322 primary school-aged children and 3,582 of secondary school age – among whom diabetes is also on the increase.

Longer fast than usual
This year in Ireland, Ramadan takes place from July 9th to August 7th. Due to the additional hours of daylight, Ramadan poses a particular challenge for people with diabetes this year.

Dr Anna Clarke, health promotion and research manager with Diabetes Ireland, said: "Given that Ramadan is falling over the summertime with longer daylight hours, it is vital that patients and their GPs plan ahead and discuss any necessary changes to treatment at least two months before Ramadan."


People who fast during Ramadan abstain from eating, drinking and using oral medications from dawn to sunset.

For those with type 2 diabetes, this drop in food intake and changes to their medication regime put them at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). If left untreated, this can lead to serious medical problems including loss of consciousness, convulsions or seizures.

Healthcare manufacturer MSD has produced an information kit called The Facts About Fasting During Ramadan which provides practical advice for patients with type 2 diabetes during this time. It has tools to help them manage their diabetes, including a blood sugar tracker and a Ramadan calendar.

Copies of The Facts About Fasting During Ramadan are available from the Islamic Cultural Centre, Dublin or for download from

Michelle McDonagh

Michelle McDonagh

Michelle McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health and family