ABU DHABI // Doctors have warned those observing the Ramadan fast to avoid urinary infections by drinking enough water in the evenings.
“There is definitely an increase in the number of urinary tract infections diagnosed in this month,” said Dr Manaf Al Hashimi, consultant urologist at Burjeel Hospital.
“The most common cause is ascending infection, in which the bacteria ascends from the genital area.
“This is more common during fasting as there is not enough water to flush the bacteria out of the body, so the bacteria sticks to the wall and produces symptoms of infection.”
UTIs can occur in any part of the tract and, while most are caused by bacteria, they can also be caused by fungi or viruses.
Eating spicy or salty food affects the PH levels of urine. If there is a significant change it can lead to higher chances of infection.
Women are advised to drink plenty of cranberry juice, which is known to prevent UTIs.
“This is the only evidence- based food that has been found to prevent UTIs and women should drink this,” said Dr Al Hashimi.
Dr Agatha Moniz, consultant gynaecologist at Medcare Hospital in Dubai, said women who were fasting while pregnant were particularly vulnerable to such infections.
“Pregnant women can’t drink large volumes because of the pressure of the uterus on the stomach, so they can’t make up for the lost water in the day,” Dr Moniz said.
“Urinary tract infections are thus more common in women who are pregnant. They must see a doctor immediately.”
Dr Rana Jamal, specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at HealthPlus Family Health Centre, said that those fasting must also carefully choose the foods they eat at iftar.
She said foods rich in vitamins A, C or E “will help to increase immunity and prevent toxic radicals disrupting cellular activity and prevent bacterial infection”.
UTI symptoms include burning sensations while urinating, lower abdominal pain, blood in urine and mid-to-lower back pain.
Salma, 27, said she suffered UTIs almost every time she fasted in Ramadan because of dehydration.
“During Ramadan I go to pray taraweeh and cannot drink more than one or two small bottles of water,” Salma said.
“I go to pray right after iftar and stay for three or four hours and refrain from drinking as I don’t want to annul my ablution.
“By the time I am home I am obliged to visit my grandparents, aunts and uncles on a daily basis, so I cannot consume more bottles of water, just small cups of tea and Arabic coffee.
“My grandmother told me to boil mint and parsley leaves in water, which helps as a diuretic cools the body.”
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(via The National)