Umrah is a big commitment. For many pilgrims it will be a physically exhausting – through spiritually fulfilling – experience, with many highs and lows.
But if you have diabetes, your Umrah journey can be even more challenging. So here are a few tips on how to manage your diabetes during your pilgrimage…
Any chronic illness can be exacerbated when you are stuck in a large crowd or spending hours in a queue. But you can minimize these risks by choosing to perform Umrah in the off-season – meaning any time other than October – April.
Just remember that Saudi Arabia gets extremely hot in the summer months, so it is wise to plan your trip for the end of September or beginning of May to avoid the worst of the desert heat.
Every diabetic already knows the value of carrying high-glucose snacks at all times, but this is particularly important when you are performing Umrah. Stock up on lightweight, sugary snacks such as sweets and snack bars, so you always have something to eat when your blood sugar feels low.
As a diabetic, you will likely be brining medication and syringes through the famously stringent Saudi customs. It is extremely important to carry a signed doctor’s note (ideally one in English and one in Arabic) which explains the purpose of your meds. Take several photocopies of this note and keep it on you at all times. It is also worth keeping your doctor’s phone number handy in case the authorities wish to call them.
Mecca and Medina are inland cities so you can expect to experience the dry heat of the desert during the daytime. This weather can be extremely dehydrating, particularly for British Muslims who are not used to the Arab climate. Aim to drink at least two litres of water per day, to ward off dehydration. Make sure you always have access to fresh drinking water, and if you start to feel dizzy or dehydrated, take a break and sit down in the shade with a sugary drink.
It is always wise to plan properly for your pilgrimage, but when you have Diabetes this is particularly vital. Make sure you know exactly where you will be from one hour to the next, and how long you will be walking or queuing for between stops. This will allow you to stock yourself accordingly with water, medication, and food.
Finally, it is extremely important that you inform your tour guide of any illness which might get in the way of your Umrah. Your tour guide is there to help you have the best possible experience, so if you are at risk of illness at any point, they will want to know exactly what they can do to help.
Find out more about our Umrah tours and our tour guides here.