6 Potential Side Effects of Fasting and Strategies to Overcome Them

6 Potential Side Effects of Fasting and Strategies to Overcome Them

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Fasting Ramadan poses no risk for healthy people (if done right), but it can be risky for people with existing health conditions like diabetes. Those are advised to have a pre-Ramadan medical assessment to achieve safe fasting.

For those taking medications multiple times during the day, recommended strategies include choosing long-acting formulations (e.g., sustained release). For short-term conditions requiring treatment, such as antibiotics or pain-killers, medications with once-daily dosing should be selected. Non-oral medications such as injections, inhalations, suppositories and eye/ear drops are usually allowed during the fast.

Early consultation with a healthcare provider helps to identify any major challenges that require addressing prior to fasting. Always speak to your doctor about your options while fasting.

Dehydration:

It’s normal during fasting especially in this hot summer where fasting extends to 16 hours. Symptoms of dehydration include; increased thirst, decreased urine output, dry mouth, tiredness, headache and dizziness.

To reduce the risk of dehydration, stay well hydrated from iftar to sohour and keep sugar consumption moderate as sugar dehydrates your body.

Before iftar when you feel dehydrated, a cold shower could help to lower your body temperature.

Headache:

It is one of the common problems during fasting. It could be triggered by hunger, dehydration, altered sleep pattern or lack of addictive substances like caffeine or nicotine.

To avoid headache, don’t miss the sohour meal and consume an ample amount of water during the non-fasting period. Sohour should contain slow digesting carbs and watery vegetables and fruits and shouldn’t include salty foods.

Constipation:

Being active, drinking regularly and eating healthily will help to keep your bowel motions regular. Include lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet and increase the fiber content of your food. Oat is rich in essential fibers, it could be added to soups, desserts or milk. Prunes, that are readily consumed during Ramadan, are a natural remedy for constipation. If the problem persists, a short course of laxatives may help.

Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar):

Even though hypoglycemia is of special concern in diabetics, it can occur for non-diabetics as well. This could happen due to excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks especially at sohour.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, trembling, inability to do physical activities, headaches and palpitations.

Measuring your blood glucose doesn’t break the fast. You should immediately break your fast if your blood glucose is <60 mg/dl [3.3 mmol/l]) or reaches <70 mg/dl (3.9 mmol/l) in the first few hours after the start of the fast.

Finally, remember that safety comes first and that fasting is not intended to create excessive hardship. Actually, Islam encourages Muslims to be mindful of their health. While there are several exemptions from fasting, many patients still choose to fast. If you are one of them, make sure to speak to your healthcare provider for careful support and advice, along with shared decision-making regarding treatment plans, to make sure that fasting will not adversely affect your health.

Indigestion:

To avoid indigestion, you can break your fast on something light like water, dates and soup then wait some time (you can pray Maghreb) before starting the main meal and eat slowly.

Don’t sleep or work out immediately after iftar, wait 3 hours before sleeping and 1 hour before exercising.

Heartburn:

Fasting normally reduces the amount of stomach acid that digests food, but when the brain thinks of food or smells it, it sends signals to the stomach to release more acid which causes heartburn.

Avoiding deep fried and spicy foods in addition to reducing caffeinated beverages and reducing smoking, which helps a lot.

This article was brought to you by Tabibi 24/7, Cairo’s leading Family Medicine & Pediatrics group practice. Tabibi operates 24/7 and offers its services at the comfort of your own home or in one of its clinics.
 
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