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Fasting During Ramadan: Tips for Patients Who Have Health Conditions

Fasting During Ramadan: Tips for Patients Who Have Health Conditions

Ramadan is one of the holiest months for Muslims. It’s a time where Muslims honor the Qur’an and get closer to God. From dawn to dusk, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking to nurture self-discipline, appreciation, and empathy. 

This year, Ramadan starts at sundown on March 10th and ends on April 8th. Given the importance of the holy month, most Muslims observe the fast, even those with health conditions.

At A&U Family Medicine in Sugar Land, Texas, our family medicine practitioner Dr. Hammad Zaidi wants to provide tips on how people with health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, and kidney disease can safely observe Ramadan.

Talk to your doctor

Before Ramadan starts, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss fasting and how to do it safely. Though most Muslims observe Ramadan, not everyone has to. There are exceptions given to people of a certain age and and those with certain health conditions, such as:

Additionally, if you decide to fast and take prescriptions to manage your health issue, you may need to make adjustments to your medication schedule to reduce risk of complications. This is especially important for people with diabetes in order to prevent low blood sugar. 

Break fasts with healthy meals

It’s important to eat when you break your fast before sunrise and after sunset. But you should continue to make the same healthy food choices you would outside of Ramadan. 

Though fasting affects everyone differently, going long periods of time without eating can lead to food cravings, unhealthy food choices, and overeating. These eating behaviors may affect your health.

Eating balanced meals that include fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats can help you get the nutrients you need without causing potential health problems.

Drink an adequate amount of fluids

You also want to make sure you get enough fluids when you break your fast. Fluid needs don’t change even when you go long periods of time without eating. 

How much water you need each day depends on your diagnosis, and we can provide specific recommendations. In general, most healthy people need 11 to 16 cups of water a day from foods and beverages.

Do a trial fast

Before Ramadan starts, we recommend a trial fast to see how not eating and drinking for long hours makes you feel. We can talk to you about the trial fast and help you make any necessary lifestyle and medication adjustments. 

Track how you feel during the fast, including concerning symptoms like fatigue, thirst, or dizziness. We want to help you gain the spiritual rejuvenation you seek during the month of fasting without harming your health.

A trial fast can help us make the appropriate adjustments so you experience the growth you’re searching for.

Create a safety plan

We also recommend people with health conditions who fast during Ramadan make a safety plan. 

Keep a card on you that lists your diagnosis and types of medications you take, along with instructions on what you need to do when you experience concerning signs and symptoms related to your diseases, like low blood sugar for diabetes or nausea with kidney disease. 

Fasting during Ramadan is an important part of the Muslim religion, but requires planning for some people. Let us help you come up with a plan that allows you to participate in the holy month without harming your health. Call our office or book an appointment online today.

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