Abu Dhabi: Emergency rooms (ERs) across the capital have recorded an increase in the number of people suffering from acute renal colic during Ramadan.
Renal colic, a type of pain commonly caused by kidney stones, is mainly a result of dehydration.
However, according to Dr Biniam Tesfayohannesm, Head of ER at Mafraq Hospital, other factors that contribute to the condition include the environment, genetics and diet.
A study conducted by the Lorain Kidney Stone Research Centre in the US found that the condition affects approximately 1.2 million people globally each year, and accounts for approximately one per cent of all hospital admissions.
The ER physician is often the first to see and evaluate these patients. While proper diagnosis, prompt initial treatment and appropriate consultations are clearly the primary responsibility of the emergency physician, substantial patient education, including preventive therapy options, should also be discussed in the ER.
"The condition is definitely more common among the Arab community, and among some Asian communities. What I see in a week here, I would see in a month in the UK, so it definitely has a lot to do with genetics, diet, heat, sweating and not drinking enough water," said Dr Tesfayohannesm.
He explained that 10 per cent of the patients who have visited Mafraq Hospital's ER during Ramadan were suffering from abdominal pain.
Dr Murray van Dyke, chairperson of Emergency Medicine at the ER at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), said that recently there were more patient visits late in the day or at night.
"People come in greater numbers over a shorter period of time. We see many people with abdominal complaints early in the day from eating too large a meal prior to the fasting period. We have also seen a real increase in the number of kidney stone presentations, which may reflect a degree of dehydration," Dr Dyke said.
Dr P.S. Bhat, GP at the ER in the NMC Specialty Hospital, sees approximately 15 cases of renal colic a day during Ramadan.
"A dramatic increase of renal colic cases are apparent during the hot season. About 90 per cent of these cases are especially clear from May to September. The prolonged fast of 12 hours, especially during the summer, does obviously enhance the condition," Dr Bhat said.
He added that the condition seems to affect the younger population most of all. "It's more apparent among people from ages 16 to 40 because they are the most active ones and are more exposed to the heat on a daily basis."
Overeating and not taking breaks between intake of food after iftar were also identified as problems.
"After a prolonged fast, people tend to overeat, or eat fast without breaks between meals, and develop dyspepsia [an upset stomach or indigestion] and diarrhoea. We usually give these patients something for the pain and ask them to space out their meals after iftar," Dr Bhat concluded.
The Al Rahba Hospital's ER is seeing about 180 patients a day this Ramadan. According to Dr Nellie Boma, chief medical officer at Al Rahba Hospital, over 55 per cent of these patients come in after iftar, and there has been a "significant increase" in the number of people with renal stones.