Posted on June 12, 2017

Emergency departments at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Hamad General Hospital and Al Khor Hospital have not seen any notable spike in the number of urgent cases within the first week of Ramadan.

Throughout last week, the Emergency Department (ED) at Hamad General Hospital (HGH) saw a slight decrease in the total number of patients compared to the previous week. Types of cases received have been similar to previous years, according to Dr. Abdul Naser Falah Howaidi, Consultant, Accident and Emergency at HGH. He noted that the number of consultations tends to peak daily around Iftar and extend until 11pm. “We have not seen any increase in the number of patients seeking emergency care at the ED since the start of Ramadan. In fact, we have noticed a decrease and this can be attributable to the Holy Month itself which teaches moderation in food and drink intake and urges avoiding overindulgence,” he said. Other reasons for the decrease could be due to the beginning of summer vacation for some schools and universities in the country, as many residents have left.

The situation is similar at Al Khor Hospital’s ED. “We did not see a difference in the number of patients coming to the ED since the start of Ramadan. The only change we have noticed is in the distribution of cases over the day. Before Ramadan, the main peak periods were both in the morning and evening shifts. The only main peak period we have seen since the start of Ramadan is in the evening, with fewer cases coming in the morning,” observed Dr. Osama Hashim Mohammad, Senior Consultant, Medicine and Head of the Emergency Department at Al Khor Hospital.

During Ramadan, it is not uncommon for Emergency Departments across the country to see an influx of patients with gastrointestinal complaints due to overeating and the consumption of unbalanced diets and fizzy and sugary drinks. Most cases present with abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, and constipation. Patients presenting with headaches, body aches, and muscle cramps, as well as injuries from domestic and road traffic accidents, are also common during Ramadan. As Ramadan is being observed this year in summer, cases associated with dehydration or other heat-related illnesses such as heat cramp, heat exhaustion, and in extreme cases heat stroke, were expected.

According to Dr. Howaidi, so far this Ramadan the case mix has not changed compared with previous months although there has been a decrease in patients presenting with heat-related illnesses. He said: “We have noticed a decrease in the cases of heat exhaustion to one or two cases per shift.” To guard against heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion caused by prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures, drink plenty of water and eat fruit and vegetables high in water content between Iftar and Suhoor. To further prevent dehydration, limit outdoor activities or direct sun exposure during the fasting hours.

“At Al Khor Hospital’s ED, we have only seen a slight increase in gastrointestinal cases which is not very significant. There is no increase in the number of emergency cases during Ramadan as compared to before fasting,” Dr. Mohammad added.