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Religious fasting and spinal cord injury

With Ramadan now in progress we spoke with Firas Sarhan, SCI clinical nurse specialist at Stoke Mandeville Hospital regarding fasting and what to consider if you are spinal cord injured.

Ramadan and the Abdu’l-Bahá are both periods of fasting which take place this month.  Ramadan is observed by the Muslim faith from the 23 March to 21 April in 2023, depending on when the new moons are visible and Abdu’l-Bahá is observed by the Bahai religion from the 1 to the 20 March.

Both religions fast from sunrise to sunset during these periods of time and all those of able body and mind will participate. During or prior to the period of fasting special prayers and charitable contributions are made by both religions.

Firas Sarhan, SCI Clinical Nurse Specialist at Stoke Mandeville Hospital has given us the following advice when someone with a spinal cord injury is considering fasting during Ramadan specifically:

“they are exempt from fasting as their health needs requires attention and alteration as a result of their injury. You can advise them to have the Suhoor – a meal they had early morning to help them with fasting and advice on diet in terms of looking at certain fruits etc that have water but with a slow-release process in digestion i.e. red water melon etc with whole meal bread – OR having dry apricot juice (Qamar El Din) as it is a source of energy and fluids etc’

It is important that if sci people do choose to participate in fasting that they are aware of some of the possible risks below and seek further medical advice if concerned or affected : –

  • Increased risk of Urinary Tract Infection
  • Increased risk of a blocked catheter
  • Increased risk of stone formation in the urinary tract
  • Dehydration symptoms
  • Alteration in bowel habit
  • Incontinence of the bowel
  • Increased risk of constipation
  • Increased risk of autonomic dysreflexia

SIA wish all spinal cord injured people a healthy and happy time throughout both these religious fasting periods and celebrations.