Tips on Managing Medication During Ramadan Fasting

Wondering how you can manage your medications during the fasting month? Here’s our quick guide on how to keep up with your medication while you observe this holy month.

by Raihan Rahman

Ramadan: A Month of Fasting

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is the time when Muslims go through a month of fasting, every day, from dawn to sunset. As fasting is considered one of the five pillars of Islam, practising Muslims are required to take part in it yearly. However, there are exemptions for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, pre-pubescent children, the elderly and individuals considered physically and/or mentally incapable of fasting.

However, this holy month is a significant observance for Muslims around the world and many may choose to fast even if they aren’t recommended to do so. Since fasting requires individuals to abstain from eating and drinking during the day, managing medication can seem difficult. In this article, we share some tips on how to observe the holy month and ensure your medications are taken timely and safely.

Medications that do NOT Invalidate Fast

  1. Eye drops or ear drops
  2. Tablets that are required to be placed beneath the tongue but not swallowed
  3. Mouthwash or medicinal spray for the mouth (not swallowed)
  4. Nasal spray (not inhaled)
  5. Having dental procedures performed, including extractions, filling, scaling and brushing of the teeth. Given that no substance is swallowed during this time.
  6. All types of injections either through layers of skin, muscles, joints or blood vessels.
  7. Blood donation, transfusion or sampling
  8. Bandages, plasters, ointment and creams
  9. Insertion of a catheter through blood vessels for an angiogram
  10. Laparoscopy
  11. Biopsy
  12. Half or local anaesthesia
  13. Haemorrhoids cream without involving the deep parts of the anus

Medications that do Invalidate Fast

  1. Tablets or syrup that is to be swallowed
  2. Inhalers for asthma or lung diseases
  3. Vaginal inspection or medicine
  4. Insertion of a catheter in the urinary tract for men or women
  5. Rectal examination either using tubes, enemas, proctoscope or by finger
  6. Endoscopy or gastroscopy for the examination of intestine or stomach
  7. Full anaesthesia

Managing Medication during Ramadan

During the fasting month, individuals taking medication daily are required to alter the timing of when they take their medications. It is advised that before the start of Ramadan, anyone prescribed long-term medication should visit their doctor or pharmacist to consult on how to properly manage medication at home.

Here are some guidelines on how to manage medication based on different doses:

Scenario 1: If Amir has been prescribed medication to be taken once (1) a day and AFTER meals, the ideal time for Amir to take his medication is after breaking the fast. Conversely, he was prescribed medication to be taken once (1) a day and BEFORE meals, the best time is before sahur which is the meal taken before dawn.

Scenario 2: Alyssa needs to take her medication twice (2) a day and AFTER meals, the ideal time for Alyssa to take her medication is after sahur and after breaking the fast. For medications to be taken twice (2) a day and BEFORE meals, Alyssa can take them before sahur and after breaking the fast but before the first meal.

Scenario 3: Majid is prescribed antibiotics to be taken thrice (3) a day and AFTER meals, the best time for Majid to take his antibiotics are after sahur, after breaking the fast and before bed. If the antibiotics are to be taken BEFORE meals, the best times are before sahur, after breaking the fast but before the first meal and before bed.

Scenario 4: Earlier this year, Saleha was prescribed medication to be taken 4 times a day and before Ramadan starts, Saleha made an appointment with her doctor for the best alternative on how she can continue fasting this Ramadan.

 

 

Post-Ramadan Fasting

After 30 days of Ramadan and the first day of Eid-al-Fitr, some Muslims have the option to fast for another 6 days. It’s important for individuals fasting at this time to continue with their Ramadan medication regimen but to return to the normal schedule once the fasting season is over.

If alternative medication or doses were prescribed for the fasting month, consult with a doctor or pharmacist on the best way to switch back to the regular regimen.

Staying Healthy this Ramadan 

While fasting is obligatory for able-bodied Muslims, there is no reason for people whose conditions are worsened by fasting to put themselves at risk during the holy month. Although Ramadan is meant to remind us of the less fortunate and to be more thankful, there is no shame if you cannot fast for medical reasons. 

There are also several other ways to observe the holy month like giving food or money to the less fortunate or even making up for the missed fasts at a later time. Ultimately, Islam teaches us that our bodies are a blessing and we have to take care of them in the best way possible.

References
  1. Norliza (2016). Fasting and Medicines. [online] PORTAL MyHEALTH. Available at: http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/fasting-and-medicines/ [Accessed 12 Apr. 2021].

About the Writer
Raihan Rahman
Raihan loves psychological thriller books and horror movies but sleeps with a night light, lest the monsters get her.
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