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Fasting doctor advises others how to stay healthy during Ramadan

Fasting doctor advises others how to stay healthy during Ramadan

Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group is urging local residents to stay well this Ramadan whether at home or away.

As the holy month of Ramadan is due to start on 7 June meaning it falls over the summer holiday period this year, the CCG, a group of GPs from 27 practices across the area, is urging people taking part in Ramadan to take extra care whilst fasting during hot weather, either at home or if travelling away.

Darwen GP Dr Pervez Muzzafar, who will himself be fasting, said that advice on staying healthy and hydrated is particularly important during hot weather.

Ramadan is a time of reflection, and many people try to adopt a better balanced life at this time, so it is a great time to change lifestyles and stop risky behaviours such as smoking.

Dr Muzzafar said: “If you are travelling away to countries such as Pakistan, India or Saudi Arabia during Ramadan, make sure you have the correct vaccinations. You can also check with your pharmacist or GP practice about extra provisions you may need to take such as water purification tablets, malaria tablets or diarrhoea relief.

“The biggest problem during this Ramadan, however, is dehydration as the fasts last from dawn to sunset which, at this time of year, means nearly 19 hours.”

It is important that plenty of water is drunk when not fastingand excessive caffeine should be avoided.

Signs of possible dehydration which you should look out for are:

  1. If you produce very little or no urine;
  2. If you begin to feel faint, disorientated or confused; or
  3. If you have a persistent and severe headache.

If this happens you must stop fasting and sip plenty of water. Do not take aspirin or paracetamol as this may aggravate symptoms of dehydration.

Islam does not require you to harm yourself to fulfil the fast. If you need to break a fast due to health reasons, this can be compensated for by fasting once you are well again.

Diabetics often wonder whether they can fast or not. Diabetics controlled by diet alone can successfully fast, as long as they do not over-indulge at breakfast. Those taking insulin need to take careful advice from their specialist adviser, as it may not be possible to fast without considerable changes to your dosage regime.

Dr Muzzafar advised: “For those on tablets, the issue very much depends on which ones are being taken. The advice is always consult with your normal specialist adviser in order to take the safest course.

Dr Muzzafar also pointed out that staying cool and hydrated is good advice for anyone, whether or not they are fasting, during the current heatwave and said: “It is important for everyone to stay hydrated in hot weather in order to avoid becoming ill.”

In the event of hot weather, there are things that can be done to avoid suffering adverse effects, these include:

  • Reducing the amount of physical activity taken
  • Staying out of the sun at peak hours (11am-3pm)
  • Eating more cold foods such as salads and fruit which contain more water at breakfast (Iftar)
  • Splashing your face regularly with cold water
  • Putting a damp cloth on the back of the neck
  • Swilling the mouth with water (allowed during Ramadan)

For more information on health and Ramadan visit http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthyramadan/Pages/healthyramadanhome.aspx