How to prevent dehydration during Ramadan

Stay hydrated during Ramadan by making sure you drink at least 10 cups of water between Iftar and Sohour. Oh and don’t forget, drinking cold water will not replenish your thirst but instead lead to indigestion!

The Holy month of Ramadan is a time of devotion and the daylight fasting an obligation to many – during the hot summer months, care must be taken to avoid any risk of dehydration so that Ramadan can be a safe experience. A Dubai-based doctor is advising on the importance of hydrating before sunrise and rehydrating slowly at Iftar to minimize the risk of dehydration, which can lead to severe health problems and even death in extreme circumstances.

Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water which leads to complications in the body’s metabolism. Dehydration happens when water loss is greater than water intake and this is usually because of excessive exercise or illness, for most of the year. During Ramadan, the risk arises due to fasting.

Most people can afford to lose three per cent to four per cent of body water without a problem but a five per cent to 8 per cent loss can result in fatigue and dizziness, and more than 10 per cent loss can lead to physical and mental deterioration, accompanied by severe thirst. A decrease of more than 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the body water is fatal. Mild dehydration generally leads to thirst and some discomfort and can usually be resolved by drinking water electrolyte solution.

The human body loses water every day in the form of water vapour in the breath, sweat and urine. In people over age 50, the body’s thirst sensation diminishes and continues diminishing with age, so that many senior citizens may quickly suffer symptoms of dehydration.

Doctor Abed Aydin (right), pediatrician at the American Hospital Dubai, says: “When the body does not have enough fluid, the kidneys try to conserve fluid and this sets off a chemical reaction that can lead to organ failure and even death in extreme cases.

The signs of dehydration are clear in the case of illness but when the danger is more related to the environment and heat exposure, then it is more difficult to read the signs. The same applies to Ramadan and the priority must be to prevent dehydration.

”For those fasting during Ramadan, we advise care in hydrating and rehydrating with small amounts of water or juices at sunrise and sunset and special care for younger and older members of the family, where signs of dehydration may be less obvious.

Caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee are diuretics and increase dehydration and so these should be avoided. Dehydration is avoided by drinking sufficient water; for adults about two to three litres of fluid per day (including water content of food). People can drink more water than the body needs if this is done in moderation. In the event of any sustained symptoms of dehydration, the person should be taken to the doctor quickly or even the emergency unit.”

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