Are you prepared for Ramadan?

Local doctors in Waltham Forest are calling on people to plan ahead this Ramadan to stay healthy and ensure they can continue to take any prescribed medication safely.

This year, Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day, will start on or around 6 June (depending on the sighting of the new moon). As Ramadan takes place during the summer the period of fasting is longer, meaning that it’s even more important to be aware of your health.

Longer, warmer days can increase the risk of dehydration, causing body aches, cramps, dizziness and exhaustion. Dehydration can particularly affect people with existing medical problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure. To stay healthy, it’s important to take some simple precautions, such as avoiding long periods of time in the sun, rehydrating well during non-fasting hours and cutting back on all types of caffeinated drinks.

It’s also important that people taking regular medication, such as for diabetes or high blood pressure, continue to take this as prescribed until they’ve spoken to their GP about how to fast safely.

Dr Anwar Khan, local GP and chair of Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“During the non-fasting hours it is important that you have a balanced diet and stay hydrated with lots of water to keep your body functioning whilst fasting. Foods that release energy slowly such as carbohydrates and protein will help in maintaining energy levels. For a range of healthy meal ideas during Ramadan visit the NHS Live Well website, www.nhs.uk/LiveWell.

“If you have diabetes, you should continue to monitor your blood glucose levels as testing your blood glucose levels does not break your fast. Medicines such as injections, ear drops, eye drops or patches where the medicine is absorbed through the skin can also be used whilst fasting.

“Your GP may also be able to change your prescription so that you don’t have to take your medication whilst fasting. If you think there is a problem, please don’t hesitate to seek medical help.”

It is also really important that you attend all medical appointments during Ramadan. If you feel you are unable to attend your appointment, you should call your GP or hospital to reschedule the appointment as soon as possible after Ramadan ends. If you feel unwell and need to see a doctor book an appointment with your GP or call NHS 111, who can offer you a telephone consultation or book an urgent appointment for you. 

Ramadan is also a perfect opportunity to quit smoking. It might seem daunting, but the NHS is here to help. Speak to your local GP or pharmacist, or visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree for advice and support.