Manage your diabetes during Hajj
Prepare a travel bag with items to monitor and control your blood sugar.
Hajj is an extraordinary event. It is a once in a lifetime requirement for Muslims who are both physically and financially capable of making the trip.
It is also demanding, particularly for those suffering from diabetes or some other chronic illnesses because you are away from and totally outside your daily routine. These can cause problems in medication timings, food control, hydration, and other areas of health.
To assist those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes when performing hajj, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) provides the following safety and health advice:
- Consult your physician and other health care providers in advance to ensure you maintain normal blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipid levels and aren’t suffering from any acute illness that could become aggravated and prevent you from completing your Hajj.
- Meningitis is a required vaccination. However, you should also receive a flu vaccination if you haven’t already done so.
- Discuss with the dietitian your nutrition plan and what kind of food and drinks to consume during Hajj. Discuss your foot care program and medication safety with the diabetes educator. It is important you learn how to care about your feet to avoid injuries. If you do injure your foot, go to the nearest medical center. Remember to always keep your feet clean and dry.
- Inform the group organizers and your companions that you have diabetes and explain to them the symptoms and signs of low blood sugar and what to do.
Hajj travel bag
Prepare your travel bag ahead of time and make sure you take with you all the necessary items to monitor your blood sugar, keep it controlled, and maintain your health and safety.
- Your diabetes identification card, which should include your personal information where you get your treatment and who to contact in case of an emergency. Blood sugar monitoring device and other tools, including lancets, strips, alcohol swabs, and band aids.
- Take a sufficient quantity of all medications, including insulin. Always keep your insulin safe and away from heat or sunlight, and avoid shaking it.
- Carry a copy of your medical record in case you need medical care
- Carry sugary foods and drinks such as fruit juice, candy, sugar cubes, etc., to use in case of a low blood sugar reading
- Wear comfortable, properly fitted shoes and cotton socks. Avoid wearing open toe sandals or slippers to protect your feet from injuries.
- Take an umbrella as protection from the sun
- Carry a mask to use in crowded places to prevent airborne infections
- Carry hand sanitizer to use after handling anything and before eating if clean water and soap are not readily available
- Carry an extra set of eyeglasses if you use them.
Tips to prevent low blood sugar during Hajj
- Consume your meals and snacks regularly, and do not skip any
- Take your diabetes medications as advised by your physician
- Regularly monitor your blood sugar to ensure it remains within a normal level
- If you experience low blood sugar more often than usual, visit the nearest emergency center to adjust your medication. Always be ready to treat your low blood sugar by consuming a half cup of fruit juice, regular soft drink (not diet) or a portion of jam or honey. If it is high, remain calm and measure it again in 15 minutes. If it is still low, repeat your intake of juice or sugar.
- If you take insulin as part of your diabetes treatment, carry a Glucagon kit so you can receive an injection, if needed.
Other important health and safety tips
- Consume only safe food and drinks to avoid food poisoning or diarrhea
- Drink adequate amounts of fluids, mainly water (a minimum of 8 cups a day) to avoid dehydration
- Wash your hands with soap and water often to reduce the risk of infection
- Do not share with others your personal hygiene items such as razor blades or scissors.