|Common health problems and remedies during Ramadaan|
|Handy Hints - Ramadhan|
One of the miracles of Islam is the month of Ramadan, a month in which we can cleanse ourselves, not only spiritually, but physically as well. Ramadan is a time of worship, but physical ailments can sometimes cause us to lose our spiritual focus. Here are some common problems that usually arise during this Holy Month of Ramadan.
Constipation can cause piles (haemorrhoids), fissures (painful cracks in the anal canal) and indigestion with a bloated feeling.
Causes: Eating too many refined carbohydrates, drinking too little water and not eating enough fibre.
Remedy: Eat more fibre and complex carbohydrates, drink more water, use bran for baking, and use brown flour when making bread.
When you are fasting, 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 using bran. If the problem persists, a short course of laxatives may help.
Indigestion and Wind
Causes: Overeating causes indigestion, as does eating too much fried and fatty food, spicy food and food that produces wind, for example, eggs, cabbage, lentils, beans, carbonated drinks.
Remedy: Do not overeat, and drink adequate amounts of water and fruit juices. Avoid fried and fatty foods. Add thymol or celery seeds to lentils and beans.
Lethargy (Low blood pressure)
Symptoms: Weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, especially when getting up from a lying or sitting position, a pale appearance and feeling faint. This tends to occur at the end of the day when you need more energy for worship.
Causes: Not drinking enough water, not enough salt in the diet, not eating enough before the fast begins and at iftar.
Remedy: Increase fluid and salt intake. Eat enough to sustain you through the next day. Drink at least one litre of water between iftar and bedtime.
Caution: If you have high blood pressure you may need your medication adjusted for the month of Ramadan. Diuretics should be avoided.
This common problem has many causes. Headaches during a fast could be due to dehydration or hunger, poor rest, or the absence of addictive substances such as caffeine or nicotine.
A moderate and balanced diet, especially not missing the pre-dawn meal, taking in enough fluids and, if necessary, some painkillers such as paracetamol, can help prevent or reduce the risk of headache.
Headaches can also be prevented by not exposing yourself to direct sunlight, wearing a hat when out, using sunglasses to reduce the effect of glare from the sun and relieving any tense muscles with a short, gentle massage.
Causes: Caffeine and tobacco withdrawal, doing too much during the day, hunger, stress, lack of sleep etc.
Remedy: Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake one or two weeks before Ramadan. Herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee can help. Reorganise your schedule so that you have enough time to perform your usual chores and tasks, and make sure you have enough rest.
Low Blood Sugar
Symptoms: Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, trembling, inability to do physical activities, headaches and palpitations.
Causes: Excessive sugary foods, for example, refined carbohydrates especially in the morning before the fast begins (suhur).
Remedy: Reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks you consume, especially for suhur. Eat more complex carbohydrates. This applies people who are not diabetics. Diabetics will need to adjust their medication during Ramadan. Please consult your doctor.
Dehydration is common during a fast. The body continues to lose water and salts through breathing, sweat and urine.
If you don’t drink sufficiently before a fast, your risk of dehydration is increased. This risk is higher in older people and in those taking tablets such as diuretics.
If you are unable to stand up due to dizziness, or you are disorientated, you should urgently drink regular, moderate quantities of water, ideally with sugar and salt, or Lucozade.
Causes: Not enough calcium or magnesium in the diet.
Remedy: Eat foods rich in above minerals, for example fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat, dried fruit and dates.
Caution: If you are on medication for high-blood pressure or are prone to kidney stones, consult your doctor.
Heartburn, Gastritis, Hiatus Hernia and Peptic Ulcers
Heartburn comes as a burning pain in the stomach area and under the ribs radiating up the chest to the throat. Increased levels of acid in an empty stomach during Ramadan can aggravate heartburn and ulcers.
Causes: Spicy foods, especially sauces, can cause this, as well as coffee, carbonated drinks, and fatty and fried foods.
Remedy: Avoid all the above foods. Do not overeat. Have a few small meals instead of one big meal; eat a little after iftar and another snack after the tarawih prayer for example.
Medication is available to control acid levels in the stomach. These should be taken daily for the whole month of Ramadan.
Fasting usually reduces the amount of stomach acid, which digests food and kills bacteria. But thoughts of food or the smell of it make the brain tell the stomach to produce more acid, which can lead to heartburn.
People who are regularly take medicine for indigestion, such as antacids, antihistamines or proton pump inhibitors are advised to continue taking them. A good time to do this could be the pre-dawn meal.
The control of heartburn or belching can be aided by eating in moderation and avoiding oily, deep-fried or very spicy food. Reducing your caffeine intake and/or stopping smoking can also be of benefit.
Preparations such as peppermint oil may help reduce belching or colic. Sleeping with your head raised on a few pillows and long-term weight loss may also help prevent heartburn.
Kidney stones may not be noticed for months or even years after they are formed.
Causes: Some people are prone to produce stones in the kidney. Even if you are not prone, not drinking enough liquids to flush out the kidneys can cause stones to form.
Remedy: Drink lots of water between iftar and bedtime. If you are prone to kidney stones you must also decrease the amount of calcium you eat by avoiding calcium-rich foods such as dairy products.
Causes: The extra prayers of Ramadan can often increase the pressure on the knee joints. In the elderly and those suffering from arthritis, this may result in pain, stiffness, swelling and discomfort.
Remedy: Lose weight so that your knees do not have to carry extra load. Exercise your lower body before Ramadan by walking 30 to 45 minutes three times a week so that your knees will be prepared for the additional strain.
Being physically fit will help you perform your prayers with ease.
People who regularly inject insulin are advised not to fast, as the potential risk to health, both in the short and long term, of not taking insulin is too great. People who have their diabetes under control using tablets should seek careful advice from their GP before starting a fast.
Regular self-monitoring of your blood glucose is strongly advised. Low blood sugar levels (a ‘hypo’) are dangerous, and if untreated may lead to fainting or fits.
Feeling dizzy, sweaty and disorientated may all suggest a hypo. If a person with diabetes has these symptoms, they should immediately have a sugary drink, or place sugar or a sugar-rich sweet below their tongue.
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