A Newham GP is urging people to plan ahead for Ramadan to stay healthy and fast safely.
As a practising Muslim, Dr Nazmul Hussain will be observing Ramadan along with family, friends and colleagues. But he is keen to ensure that before fasting, people consider their health.
This year, Ramadan is due to start on the evening of Tuesday 15 May, and as it is the summer, the longer, warmer days can bring an increased risk of dehydration.
This can particularly affect people with existing medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease (CKD), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Dr Hussain, a GP at Wordsworth Health Centre in Manor Park, said: “Ramadan is an important time for all Muslims and many will choose to observe the fast during the daylight hours.
"However, it is also important to stay healthy and fast safely. With this in mind, anyone with a long-term condition or taking regular medication, who is thinking about fasting this Ramadan, should discuss their options with their GP, specialist nurse or healthcare professional.
"If you are taking prescribed medicines, you should continue taking them during Ramadan."
To stay healthy during the 30 days of Ramadan, it is important to:
- avoid long periods of time in the sun
- drink plenty of water during non-fasting hours
- cut back on all types of caffeinated drinks
- Eat a balanced diet during non-fasting hours to keep your body functioning properly during the day. Foods that release energy slowly, including carbohydrates and protein, will help you maintain your energy levels. For healthy meal ideas, visit www.nhs.uk/LiveWell
Some diabetics are advised by GPs not to fast during Ramadan due to the impact on their health. Specific examples include those on insulin, significant kidney, heart and bowel disease.
Dr Hussain added: “If you think you have a health problem during Ramadan, please don’t hesitate to seek medical help. It is also really important that you attend all your regular or pre-arranged medical appointments.
"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 (on the evening of 14 June)."
If you are unable to see your GP and need to see a doctor urgently during Ramadan you can call the Newham out of hours GP cooperative service on 020 7511 8880. You will be given advice and directed to the right place to get the medical care you need as quickly as possible.
For further information about where you can access health services in your area, visit www.nhs.uk
Please remember: fasting is not considered compulsory for many groups – including young children; people with diabetes on insulin therapy; people who are unwell or have a long-term condition; people with learning difficulties; people who are travelling; and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.