Dubai: Fasting during Ramadan might be challenging given that temperatures are expected to climb up to 48 degrees Celsius with seasonal factors of hot winds, humidity, and dust, according to the Ministry of Heath.
Fasting by itself affects the body’s normal functioning, and high temperatures could negatively affect the person who is fasting, especially if he has an underlying medical condition and/or is above the age of 50, said Dr Gulam Naroo, Senior Specialist in Emergency Medicine at Rashid Hospital, Dubai.
He explains that when a person fasts, it affects the metabolism. “The lack of water and food for more than 14 hours increases the pressure on the body, forcing it to use stored reserves. The heat causes more stress on the body, resulting in more perspiration and water loss, and increasing the likelihood of dehydration.”
Residents with medical conditions relating to the kidney and those with diabetes are at a higher risk due to the heat, he said. “Their bodies may not be able to cope with the heat, and could develop complications.”
Dr Sevdalina Ivanova Velizarova, Specialist Internal Medicine, Cedars — Jebel Ali International Hospital, also told Gulf News that dehydration may put those with kidney disease at risk, and increase the risk of kidney stones in normal people. “Chronic kidney disease patients should consult their doctors before fasting,” she said.
The highest risk in the summer is dehydration. She said the body requires water and when exposed to the heat, the existing water reserves are tapped. “This put even more pressure on those who are fasting.”
Outdoor workers, despite the mandatory midday break rule from 12:30pm to 3pm by Ministry of Labour, have to be cautious when fasting, she added.
As a preventive measure, Dr Velizarova suggested reduced sun exposure and less salt intake because a high-sodium diet increases fluid loss through urination and increases thirst.
Dr Naroo urged residents to give their body time to acclimatise. He said, “During the first week, reduce physical activity, increase water intake, and eat balanced meals to prepare the body for the month-long fasting phase. In general, residents who are fasting should limit exposure to the heat.”
The Ministry’s Health Education and Promotion Department advises residents stay in cool areas (indoors or in shade) during the hottest part of the day, resting if possible. It also cautions that very little fluid intake can lead to dehydration, especially during hot days.