Ramadan: How to stay hydrated while fasting

With temperatures soaring above a scorching 40 degrees Celsius this Ramadan, doctors in Oman have asked people to stay hydrated during the Holy Month, and throughout the summer. “This is very critical in our country, because we are reaching very high grades of temperatures,” said Dr Mahmood Al Rahbi, a senior consultant in emergency medicine with the Ministry of Health, and senior specialist at Al Nahda Hospital in Muscat.

“When you sweat, you are losing a lot of sodium and chlorides; this needs to be replaced because it then leads to electrolyte imbalance, which affects the function of the organs. Children and adults will have abnormal body function, which will be shown in the form of confusion and abnormal behaviour, due to the loss of water.”

“We cannot completely avoid dehydration during Ramadan, but we should not go into critical dehydration,” he added

“At night, you need to nourish and prepare yourself and avoid fluid loss by staying indoors. Don’t drink things that increase urine output such as coffee, tea and soft drinks, and eat fruits and vegetables that have plenty of water. Also, avoid losses by being outside the range of the sun and direct heat. I would ask children to take rest and not stay in the direct sun for long.”

People who stayed outdoors for long amounts of time didn’t just risk dehydration, but heatstroke as well, causing further, and sometimes irreversible, harm to their bodies.

“Families usually go on holidays in the outdoors, to the beaches, wadis or mountains. They need to stay away from the heat, or they could suffer from heatstroke or dehydration,” explained Al Rahbi.

“The most likely to be affected are children and elderly people, where the body cannot tolerate these changes, especially in terms of high temperature, low salts and fluid intake.”

“In the beginning, they will start to sweat, experience an increase in the heart rate and have muscle cramps. We advise people, if they begin to experience these cramps, to stay away from the sun and go to the shade and drink water,” he added.

“If there are fans that make the air move, this could be one mode of cooling. If the core temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius, this is a medical emergency, because there are additional consequences if this is not handled immediately by providing first aid and taking patients to hospitals. The body’s auto regulation of temperature will fail during a heatstroke, because there is no fluid in the body at the time.”

It was important, he added, to ensure fluids were provided before patients became critical.

“Critical patients refers to those who are unstable,” he explained. “They come with unstable vital signs and symptoms such as hypotension, chest pain, stroke, dehydration. They often need intubation and fluids and medication, especially in the case of children.”

“If their fluid loss is high, they will be dehydrated, especially if they are outdoors playing with their friends. Fizzy and soft drinks have only sugar and some dissolved acids, so this will not give you anything more than some energy. What you need is minerals such as sodium chloride and other elements such as vitamins. If a patient does suffer from heatstroke, this will affect the other organs such as the kidney, the brain, muscles, and will put a lot of burden on the vital organs. This is common in the desert where people working in the sun do not take care of hydration and don’t rest often.”

Dr A Basheer, who will himself be fasting during Ramadan, said people needed to rehydrate during the evening hours after breaking their fast.

“What I normally do is drink some juice and water immediately after breaking my fast during iftar, and then I eat some snacks that are not oily, because oily food absorbs more water. Before my taraweeh prayers, I have some soup, some juice and some water, because this will keep me hydrated,” he explained. “Throughout the evening, it is very important to drink water, or have some fruits with high water content. Before fajr, I would also recommend that people wake up half an hour earlier to drink water and hydrate themselves.”

tag: ramadan , health , hydrated , fasting


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