People living with sickle cell disorder are putting their lives at risk by fasting during Lent or Ramadan. This is according to the head of haematology at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, Dr. Aisha Ahmad Galadanchi.
Physicians say the most common complication of the disease is vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) which presents with body pain of varying severity.
Indeed, experts warn that if you take medications that put you at risk of hypoglycaemia [an abnormally low level of glucose in the blood], such as sulphonylureas and insulin; if you’re living with diabetes complications such as poor vision, nerve damage, heart or kidney disease, there is a high risk that fasting could make these health conditions worse.
While some religious people who live with sickle cell practise intermittent fasting during Ramadan and Lent, researchers say there is paucity of literature describing the effect of intermittent fasting on the frequency of incidence of severe VOC among those living with sickle cell.
“As a result, there is a lack of guidelines or standardized protocols that can help physicians advise patients with sickle cell disease who wish to practise intermittent fasting,” researchers warn.
Dr. Aisha Ahmad Galadanchi added that due to dehydration caused by the harsh weather, as well as the presence of malaria, stress, and infection, someone living with sickle cell who decides to fast could easily break down.
VIDEO — Many faces of sickle cell: https://youtu.be/gULdrIEV5r4
“Some of the factors that could easily lead to their crisis during fasting is dehydration,” she stated.
“Malaria and stress also complicate things for them. But a sickle cell patient fasting right now is putting hims/herself in danger,” Dr. Galadanchi added.
She pointed out that those living with sickle cell could make up for the fast later by staying off food when it is convenient for them, or by donating money or food to the less privileged.
“What we normally advise is that they should postpone the fast till it is convenient for them.
“But for those who cannot fast at all, they can donate food to the less privileged in the community,” she explained.