Fasting With Diabetes: What Every Diabetic Should Know

Fasting with diabetes is a condition which every diabetic should know.  Like most diabetics, you try to deal with your disease proactively. You have regular check-ups, take your medications as prescribed, exercise on a regular basis, and try to stick to a stringent diabetic diet. So what do you do if you want or need to fast?



Since both healthy and diabetic people may have reasons to fast from time to time, it’s important for diabetics to understand what effects fasting can have on their overall health and well-being before attempting to do so. But first, let’s take a look at what fasting involves and the main reasons people do it for.

Fasting normally involves going without food, drink, and sometimes medications for extended periods of time ranging from 12-24 hours. Under that definition, fasting can be quite challenging, especially for those with diabetes.

As to why people fast, there are a number of reasons. Many people fast for religious reasons, including special Holidays. Patients are also often required to fast before certain blood tests, prior to major surgeries, and before other procedures such as colonoscopies.

Once it is established that you will be fasting, and you are a diabetic patient, you should consult with your physician to determine if it is safe for you to fast and how to correctly go about it because fasting with diabetes can be dangerous if you are not well aware of certain facts.

If you are fasting for religious reasons, you will most likely find that it is perfectly fine not to do so, especially if safety issues are involved—the kinds of issues your doctor has already made you aware of. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes should not fast because it is unsafe to do so. Other reasons not to fast for religious purposes are if you have recently suffered a heart attack, you have a cold, the flu or some other infection or if you have a difficult time controlling your blood sugar under normal non-fasting conditions. Should your doctor give you the go ahead to fast for religious reasons, make sure he or she understands the nature and duration of your fast and that you understand what medications should or should not be taken during your fasting period. Your doctor will also tell you to check your blood sugar often, and instruct you as to what to do if your blood sugar gets too high or too low. Should your blood sugar begin dropping too low at any time during your fast, you should stop fasting immediately.

Some good advice for those who are fasting for a blood test, surgery, colonoscopy or other medical procedure, is to try to schedule your test or procedure the first thing in the morning. By getting in early you will not need to fast any longer than you absolutely have to.

Once you have been cleared for fasting, the next big question that should be on your mind is:

How Will Fasting Affect My Diabetes Medicine?

As a diabetic, you have done your homework, and you know the role that insulin plays in regulating blood sugar. You should also know that if you refrain from eating or drinking for prolonged periods, insulin will cause your blood sugar to get too low. The same rule applies for many diabetic medications that are taken at mealtimes. Make sure your prescriber goes over each of your meds and clearly notates which ones you should or should not take, either right before or during the duration of your fast. Being that fasting tends to change the rules on blood sugar control, your doctor may also alter the dose of your diabetic drugs (the dose will usually be lower) as well as the time of day you should take them.

Since your prescriber will probably not be with you to look for trouble signs while you are fasting, the next question you should ask is:

What Things Should I Watch Out For When I Fast?

Answer to that question, here are some of the things you need to watch for when fasting. First and foremost, that blood sugar, you keep such a close eye on each and every day may get too low during a fast. Make sure you check your blood sugar often. As you may already know from experience, low blood sugar can make you feel nauseated, shaky, confused, cold and sweaty. You may also experience a rapid heartbeat that can be fairly scary. That’s why before you fast you need to ask your prescriber two critical questions, the first being, what blood sugar number is too low for you? The second and most critical question is, what do you do if your blood sugar gets too low? As to the 1st question, that number can depend on a number of factors, but in general terms, blood glucose numbers between 70 and 90mg/dl are considered red flags for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Whenever you fast, always keep a good sugar source with you at all times, such as fruit juice, glucose tablets, hard candies, or crackers, just in case your blood sugar drops too low.

As strange as it may seem, abnormally high blood sugar during fasting can pose a real problem for other types of diabetics. For people with type 1 diabetes, this scenario can be extremely dangerous. If you have type 1 diabetes, rely on your prescriber to tell you what insulin adjustments to make while fasting. Although you still need to take some insulin, the dose will usually be lower.

Finally, it cannot be emphasized enough how important it is that you consult your physician if you have diabetes and plan to fast for any length of time. For those with or without diabetes, mounting evidence shows that fasting can be a cleansing and healthy experience for your body. The key for diabetics is to fast as safely as possible.

Please Share Your Thoughts And Views:        

If you are a diabetic and you also fast from time to time, what precautions you take so as to avoid messing up with your health? Please do share your views and thoughts with the readers which may help many people in similar conditions.

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