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June 20, 2016

Inappropriate diet, poor sleep cause weakness, fatigue in Ramazan


Majority of patients and even healthy people who are fasting in the holy month of Ramazan experience extreme fatigue, malaise (a feeling of general discomfort, uneasiness or pain, of being ‘out of sorts’) dizziness and weakness especially in the middle of the fasting month whose vital factor, according to health experts, is inappropriate diet and poor sleep schedule in Ramazan.

A number of patients are being presented to emergency departments of public sector hospitals of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi with health issues pertaining to Ramazan including gastroenteritis, gastric distention, constipation, headache, vomiting, dehydration, weakness and fatigue and it is so mainly because of unawareness among population on how to avoid these, said Assistant Professor at Intensive Care Unit in Holy Family Hospital in town Dr. Muhammad Haroon while talking to ‘The News’ on Sunday.

He said that overeating at the time of ‘Iftar’ shifts 70 per cent of blood flow towards gastrointestinal system that causes muscle weakness, fatigue and headache. A big issue is free water intake in large quantities immediately after ‘Iftar’ that lowers down sodium levels causing multiple symptoms including weakness and fatigue, he said.

He added heat is another factor that is causing problems for the fasting population as in extreme hot weather, the body suffers loss of fluids and essential salts.

He explained that the loss of circadian rhythm causes sleep deprivation for the fasting population that adds misery. Sleep schedule has a big role in overall health status. Lying down immediately after ‘Sehr’ should be avoided as it causes gastritis and acid reflux, a burning pain around the lower chest area caused by stomach acid flowing back up into the food pipe, said Dr. Haroon.

He said the consumption of high fat content in traditional ‘Sehr’ and ‘Iftar’ dishes takes prolonged time for digestion and imposes lots of stress on the digestive system that affects normal functioning of other body organs causing a number of problems.

Talking of the measures that can help overcome the weakness and fatigue in Ramazan, he said one should take moderate quantity of food at the time of ‘Iftar’ and immediately after it. Two glasses of water should be taken at the time of ‘Iftar’ and subsequent water should be taken at least one hour after ‘Iftar’. The food at ‘Iftar’ must contain fruits like dates, mangoes, bananas etc. that provides glucose along with essential nutrients. Do not lie down immediately after ‘Iftar’. Patients who are suffering from gastric problems should take small but frequent meals between ‘Ifatr’ and ‘Sehr’, suggested Dr. Haroon.

He said sleep deprivation is common in Ramazan and one should take at least six to eight hours sleep per day. People who are on sleep medications should half their doses in Ramazan and one should go for sleep at least two hours after taking food to avoid problems, he said.

Heat exhaustion increases water losses by sweating. Also there is loss of salts from body causing fatigue, muscle cramps and weakness. It is best to avoid working outside as much as possible and stay indoors during peak hours of heat in the day, said Dr. Haroon.

He added that strenuous exercise is not recommended in Ramazan as it may cause heat exhaustion. He suggested that light aerobic exercises like rope skipping etc can be done but the best exercise is brisk walking for 30 minutes on alternate days in Ramazan. “Taking one packet of ORS every second or third day replenishes body’s glucose and salt balance in Ramazan.”

To a query, he said those who feel much weakness and fatigue in Ramazan may take multivitamins but they better take advice from a qualified doctor. Fresh fruits of all kinds taken regularly help to overcome weakness and fatigue, he said.

Dr. Haroon said that headache sufferers should try to avoid triggers such as fluid retention, stress, fatigue and lack of sleep during Ramazan as these may aggravate their problem.