A pharmacist in a leading independent pharmacy chain shares his myth-busting Ramadan advice on managing health and the use of medication while fasting.
While the holy month means total fasting in terms of oral consumption, it’s still ok, says Ifti Khan, superintendent pharmacist at Well Pharmacy, to have vaccinations and blood tests and to use eye drops or other medical items that are not ingested through the mouth.
It’s also important for people to keep taking their prescribed medication over the Ramadan period. Anyone who is concerned should speak to their pharmacist about whether they can take their medicine at different times, as stopping it could have serious consequences.
Mr Khan, who will be observing Ramadan himself, said: “Confusion can sometimes arise when it comes to medication and managing health conditions whilst fasting”, adding it is important for patients to keep managing health during Ramadan.
Having injections or vaccinations is fine, as are blood tests, using eye or ear drops, and using anything that patients don’t consume orally – so nicotine and other transdermal patches, pessaries and dialysis, for example. It’s also ok to eat and drink as a result of a condition which causes forgetfulness.
Patients should be advised to “keep taking prescribed medications during Ramadan as not doing so could have serious consequences, but we’d recommend speaking to your pharmacist who is best placed to advise if the times that you take them can be changed or the doses adjusted.
In his tips for patients, he said: “You should also continue to attend any medical appointments you have booked assuming you feel well enough. If you become unwell while fasting, you can break your fast if you want to on the account of avoiding harm – again, if this happens you should speak to your pharmacist or GP. People fasting can sometimes feel bloated or constipated, especially in the first few days. There are over-the-counter medicines available to help with this, and our pharmacy teams can help with a recommendation.”
People who are exempt from fasting during Ramadan are able to make an obligatory donation to provide meals for people who need help, and it’s important not to risk your health.
“To stay as healthy as possible during Ramadan, try to eat healthy meals when breaking your fast, and make sure that you stay hydrated. Take some light exercise if you can – and if you smoke, why not harness some of your self-control into quitting for good. Again, speak to your pharmacist if you need advice,” he added.