Falling to Cold & Flu Viruses While Fasting

Your nose is stuffy or it is expectantly running, your head is heavy and aching and you know like the back of your hand that you are suffering from a common cold or perhaps that malevolent flu. Your Ramadan is in jeopardy.

I know you feel compunction about withdrawing your fasting for a few days since you are down with a serious cold that has terribly weakened your health particularly that of your  head- the engine of your body.

Your hankie is busy spreading out the viral attacks against your recuperating body, your lovely handshake and soothing hug for your family members may translate into a home full of flu sufferers.

Colds and flu are like grass snakes, they aren’t harmful as such, but they have the potential to nail you down onto your bed for days or for some weeks depending on the strength of your immune system.

They aren’t lethargic like cancer, but they are perturbing and embarrassing especially when you are having a running nose coupled with an expectant cough.

Ramadan is particularly difficult time to suffer from many of the contagious upper respiratory infections. Your body might be at its weakest due to lack of routine eating and drinking.

And yes your doctor cannot do much about colds and flu that are so common with us that most people use homemade remedies to deal with its problematic symptoms.

The reasons why your doctor might not help is that antiviral medication helps manage flu but more often than not if fails to treat.

Patients rely on their body’s natural mechanism to fight small and harmless opportunistic infections like colds.

Cold and FluGet the facts right: flu is caused by an influenza virus which is contagious; while scientists say there are many different viruses present in our neighborhood that causes colds. It is believed the number exceeds 200.

Viruses are spread and bred through globules that are coughed and sneezed out by an infected individual.

Once you are infected, coughing, sneezing, sore throats and headaches are your next door neighbors.

Medically, these bugs are very common and present throughout everywhere and every time: around your house, school or mosque, there are potential cold-causing viruses that tend to take advantage of the human body.

“Colds and flu are part of a long list of upper respiratory tract infections. The viruses that cause them are present in our environment especially during cold seasons because cold winds are medically pro-inflammatory” asserts Dr. Asif Hussein Gulam, a Mombasa-based physician.

“But also allergic reactions from some foods items or from our environment can cause bodily response and inflammations that tend to arouse respiratory illnesses,” he continued.

Doctors say lifestyle adaptations also results in increased cases of colds particularly during Ramadan as most Muslims prefer taking excessive amounts of cold drinks and beverages.

“During Iftar, it is a widespread practice among most people to take very cold drinks that inflame the upper respiratory airways making it easy for the body to pick up infections,” Dr. Gulam notes.

Doctors say, resting, eating a good diet, avoiding stress and drinking a lot of water are the common therapies in dealing with these problems.

Of course you can’t do this in Ramadan, so how is the fasting person going to deal with this jigsaw puzzle?

While taking painkillers such as paracetamol, some antiviral or even some decongestant during your non-fasting hours might be helpful, inconsistencies in administering drug prescription is the biggest challenge during Ramadan daytimes.

Dehydration during fasting exacerbates the cruelty of cold, lack of water in the body means manifestation of a troubling virus throughout your body.

It is really difficult to deal with it once you are down, hopefully your flu is mild, otherwise you have got to push your body against all odds as you struggle to fast the few days you are suffering.

Cold & FluAnd here is when prevention is better than cure. Doctors say you have to handle yourself properly in order to keep your body health at optimum levels.

“Self-vigilance is recommended in handling colds and flu. Avoiding excessive cold drinks during Iftar and Suhoor times, this is in order to keep inflammations at bay,” says Dr. Gulam.

It is also at this point when you need to identify causes of your allergic reactions that tend to increase your chances of getting attacked by a viral illness.

Small acts such as washing your hand regularly or wearing a dust mask are some of things that you can do to keep opportunistic viruses at a distance.

Finally you may need yearly influenza shot -consult your doctor- since it is the best to protect your annual Ramadan but remember dealing with colds need more of a lifestyle rearrangement since viruses are as common as smiles.

This article is from Science’s archive and we’ve originally published it on an earlier date.