More than 100 people have been admitted to hospital for emergency medical care related to stomach problems during the first five days of Ramadan, it has emerged.
At Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, around 30 percent of the total 150-160 people who pass through its emergency department each day are suffering from ailments including overeating, eating the wrong types of foods and hypersensitivity to any food following a long period of fasting.
Dr. Magdi Mohamed, a specialist in emergency medicine at Burjeel Hospital, said he estimated that 40 emergency patients per day had been admitted due to fasting-related ailments in the past week.
Of those, around five or six each day had been admitted to hospital for more intensive treatment.
Such numbers are “normal” during Ramadan, he revealed. “This is roughly what we expect, it happens every year,” he told Arabian Business.
“However, the number of cases tends to be higher at the beginning of the holy month, before people’s bodies have grown accustomed to fasting.”
The two most common conditions he sees are gastritis, which is an acute inflammation of the lining of the stomach, and gastroenteritis, which is a bacterial infection of the stomach.
Gastritis can be caused by eating any type of food, said Dr. Mohamed, rapidly and in large portions after fasting all day. This can aggravate the stomach and cause abdominal pain, stomach upsets and in some cases, vomiting.
Gastroenteritis, on the other hand, is an infection caused by bacteria in food. A fasting person could be more sensitive to the bacteria because they have not been regularly digesting meals.
In this case, the patient can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and severe stomach pain. They are often hospitalised for two to three days.
Patients with either condition are given plenty of fluids, antiemetic drugs to calm vomiting and nausea, and painkillers to ease stomach aches.
Dr. Mohamed recommended people be “rational” and break their fast gradually, by eating a handful of dates with coffee or water, waiting for one hour before consuming heavier food such as bread, and then waiting another hour before having a proper meal.
“If people do not follow this routine then they risk suffering from stomach problems [of the type mentioned above],” he warned.