heat exhaustion

Fasting is becoming increasingly popular both for religious and dietary reasons. The majority of people fast without any ill effects, but it is important to ensure that provision is made for people who are pregnant, breast feeding have pre-existing medical conditions or whose life styles, work, exercise or study makes it more difficult and possibly dangerous for them.  People should not underestimate how important it is to remain hydrated in hot weather, particularly if undertaking rigorous work or exercise.

Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam and Muslims are urged to fast during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. The period of fasting for Ramadan in the UK is about 17 hours  per day and that amount of time in hot weather without drinking anything at all can lead to severe dehydration. Not everyone is obliged to fast and if they are ill or have an underlying medical condition they are exempt. Speaking with the Imam can clarify the position, but ultimately it is up to the individual whether they fast. Please bear in mind that the Qur’an also states that no one should do anything to harm their body and fasting if someone is not healthy enough to do so, can make them very ill.

Health advice for people fasting in hot weather: 

Hot weather brings additional challenges to people wishing to observe their fast during Ramadan. The key advice is to be sensible and don’t put your health at risk. The following articles contain really helpful advice to help remain healthy whilst fasting

Diabetes advice from the NHS

Asthma and Fasting is a great article containing  key advice from Asthma.org.uk for people with Asthma wishing to observe Ramadan
Diabetes and Fasting is a really helpful article from Diabetes UK concerning fasting for Diabetics.
For people with Sickle cell disease it is vitally important that they maintain a healthy diet and keep fully hydrated. Failure to do this can precipitate a painful sickle cell crisis.
For Epileptic patients controlled on medication, the medication needs to continue to be taken regularly otherwise it can be very difficult to bring the condition back under control.
Ramadan Fasting and the Medical Patient is a helpful paper discussing fasting advice in various medical conditions.
Nose bleeds and fainting are more common in hot weather and coping with hot weather can be particularly difficult if fasting:

Nose bleeds – how to help

Nose bleeds occur more often in hot weather as the small blood vessels in noses can dilate and burst when they get warm. Nose bleeds are particularly common in small children (as they have tiny blood vessels in their noses), pregnant ladies (as their blood vessels are naturally dilated by hormones) and anyone undertaking sport or additional exertion in the heat which puts further stress on the blood vessel walls.

If someone has a nose bleed:

  • Sit them down.
  • Grab something to catch the blood.
  • Lean them forward pinching the bridge of the nose. Leaning them forward whilst applying pressure to the nose will allow you to see when the bleeding has stopped and will avoid the blood trickling down the back of their throat which could make them sick. You should apply pressure to try and push the leaking blood vessel against the inside of the nose to stop it bleeding.
  • Keep changing your grip until you have got to a point where no blood is coming out.
  • Keep applying pressure for at least 10 minutes.
  • Release pressure slightly and if it starts to bleed again hold for another 10 minutes and then another.

If it really won’t stop bleeding you will need medical help.
Advise them not to pick, poke or blow the nose. If it starts again you will have to apply pressure once more.
Special situation!
If the nose bleed has been caused by trauma, or a punch in the face, controlling the bleeding may be difficult but you need to try as loss of blood is dangerous. You should apply a wrapped ice pack, keep applying pressure and get medical help immediately.

Fainting

Lie them down and raise their legs.

Fainting is a brief loss of consciousness caused by a temporary reduction to the blood flow of the brain. Fainting can be a reaction to pain, lack of food, exhaustion or emotional stress. People often feel faint because it is warm or they have been exercising and then stop; the small blood vessels in their skin have become dilated and the blood begins to pool in their feet. Lying down and raising the legs will improve the circulation and redirect the blood to the brain. They should begin to feel better or regain consciousness quickly – if they don’t, you will need to put them into the recovery position.

They may need to eat and drink something in order to recover completely. If you are concerned that the collapse may be due to anything other than a faint (such as a stroke), or they have injured themselves when they fell – get medical assistance fast.

Please do not underestimate the heat and amount of daylight in a UK summer and the additional stress that fasting will cause to your body. If you are planning to fast, please take medical advice, talk things through with your Imam and ensure you are not doing anything that will harm your health.

It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit firstaidforlife.org.uk emma@firstaidforlife.org.uk or tel 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses. First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

 

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