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UAE doctors mark surge in Ramadan overeating emergencies

Doctors in the UAE have reported a rise in the number of hospital patients with stomach problems since the start of Ramadan

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Doctors in the UAE have reported a rise in the number of hospital patients with stomach problems since the start of Ramadan, UAE-based newspaper The National reported on Tuesday.

Emergency departments have had an influx of people with stomach problems, linked to over-eating during the iftar meal – which is the breaking of the daily fast – and kidney problems because of dehydration during fasting hours.

According to the newspaper, doctors say that people are coming into hospital doubled over in pain.

“You get a lot more suffering with abdominal pain because of the pattern of eating after fasting,” Dr. Biniam Tesfayohannes, head of the emergency department at Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi, told The National.

“It is more or less double because of people eating in a very quick way immediately after fasting. Some people eat too huge an amount of carbohydrates. They get bloated. They get abdominal pains and they come in for that.”

Too many people do not break their fast sensibly, he added to the newspaper.

“Some people tell me they can not break the fast in a gentle way. While some will have some soup or juice, others will have a full meal. It is those who have a full meal that an hour or two later they get abdominal pain,” Tesfayohannes said.

“It could be easily avoided if they did not eat so fast, so quick.”

According to another specialist who spoke to the newspaper, overeating at iftar is a problem every year.

Dr. Magdi Mohamed, a specialist in emergency medicine in a Dubai hospital, said “most people are presenting with stomach problems… They have gastroenteritis. They are vomiting, they have diarrhea, abdominal pains.”

“Do not rush to eat a large amount of food,” Mohamed advised. “Gradually increase the amount of food you are taking. Take warm fluids. We advise during suhoor (the pre-dawn meal before the fast) to take a light meal. Take care of the food hygiene.”

Dr. Salwan Ibrahim, Middle East medical director for International SOS, a company of experts in global health issues, told The National that, to stay healthy, there are simple rules to follow.

“That means staying hydrated, eating wisely and making sure to take sufficient rest,” he said.

“Fasters should adopt routines gradually and be moderate in their eating and drinking habits during the hours of darkness.”

He advises breaking the fast with small portions of food and then waiting 10 minutes to consume more food which should be mineral-rich.