Is it safe to fast with a lung condition?
If you’re living with a long-term lung condition, speak to your GP or specialist if you are thinking about fasting. They can tell you whether it is safe for you to fast and explain what effect fasting will have on your health and your treatment.
You should be able to fast if:
- You are managing your lung condition well
- You have fasted for Ramadan before with no problems.
However, it might not be practical for you to fast if it will affect your treatment.
The Qur'an says that you do not have to fast if you are physically ill, mentally ill, or very frail. Although, we understand that choosing to fast is a very personal decision. You might choose to fast even if you do not have to.
If you get symptoms while fasting
The British Islamic Medical Association advises that if you become unwell during Ramadan, you should stop fasting and speak to a healthcare professional.
The most important thing is to make a decision that is safe and right for you. You don’t have to do this alone. You can speak to your local Imam and your healthcare professional for advice and support.
If you decide not to fast, the Qur’an says that you can fast at another time, when you are well. For example, you could make up your fasts during winter, when the days are shorter. The Qur’an also says that if you cannot fast at all, you could help to feed those in need instead.
For most people, it is safe to fast if you are managing your asthma well.
You should not stop taking your preventer inhaler during Ramadan. Speak to your GP or asthma nurse to find out whether you can change the time you take your medicines. For example, you might be able to take your preventer inhalers in between Iftar and Suhoor instead.
You could also go through your asthma action plan with them so that you know how to manage your condition well during Ramadan.
Fasting could affect your health if you have bronchiectasis. Your GP or specialist can give you the best advice about fasting.
If you live with bronchiectasis, your body can become dehydrated when you fast. This might make it harder to clear your lungs. Staying hydrated can help to make the mucus in your lungs thinner. When your mucus is thin, it’s easier to clear your lungs
So far, there is no research on pulmonary fibrosis and fasting. It might be unsafe to fast if you take medication to slow the scarring (anti-fibrotic drugs). Your GP or specialist can give you the best advice about whether fasting is safe for you.
Fasting could affect your health if you have CF. Your GP or specialist can give you the best advice about fasting.
If you live with CF, staying hydrated can help to make the mucus in your lungs thinner. When your mucus is thin, it’s easier to clear your lungs. When you fast your body can become dehydrated, so you might find it harder to clear your lungs.
If you have CF diabetes, fasting could also cause your blood sugar levels to lower (hypoglycaemia). Low blood sugar levels can be dangerous if they are not treated quickly.
The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has more information about fasting with cystic fibrosis.
Will my medicines break my fast?
It’s always best to ask your local Imam for advice about taking specific medicines, because there are different opinions about which medicines break your fast.
Generally, taking medicine through your mouth or nose is considered to break your fast during Ramadan.
It could be harmful to your health to stop taking your prescribed medicines, so have a conversation with your GP about the safest way to manage your condition during Ramadan if you plan to fast.
Medicine or treatment
Will it break my fast?
What should I do?
|Inhaled medicines, including inhalers and nebulisers||Scholars do not agree about whether inhalers and nebulisers break your fast. Some do not believe that they break your fast because they target your lungs, not your stomach||Speak to your GP or specialist before fasting. They might be able to change your medicines. They could also change the dose of your medicines or the times that you take them|
|Tablets, including oral steroids and antibiotics||Yes||Speak to your GP or specialist before fasting. They might be able to change your medicines. They could also change the dose of your medicines or the times that you take them|
|Home oxygen therapy||No||Carry on with your treatment as normal|
|Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine||No||Carry on with your treatment as normal|
|Injections, including the COVID-19 vaccines and antibiotic injections||No||Carry on taking your medicines as prescribed. Get any vaccines that you need|
|Nicotine patches||No||Carry on using your medicines as normal|
|Nasal sprays||Nasal sprays break your fast. However, you might be able to use a nasal spray if it does not go down your throat||Speak to your GP or specialist before fasting. They might be able to change your medicines. They could also change the dose of your medicines or the times that you take them|
|Eye or ear drops||No||Carry on using your medicines as normal|
What should I eat during Ramadan?
Eating well is very important for your health, especially if you live with a lung condition. A well-balanced diet can help you to stay strong, prevent chest infections and keep your lungs healthy.
When you first break your fast at Iftar, try to drink a lot of fluids. Water and milk can help your body rehydrate. It’s best to avoid food and drinks with added sugars, as these can make you dehydrated.
Low-fat foods and foods containing natural sugars provide nutrients and energy and can be good for breaking your fast in a healthy way. Good examples are soups and dried fruits like dates and prunes.
At Suhoor, try to eat starchy foods like rice, couscous and breads. Choose high-fibre or wholegrain options if you can, as these will help to keep you full for longer.
Physical activity while fasting
You might find it harder to be active while fasting, but exercise is still important for managing your lung condition. To stay healthy, you could do gentle activities like:
- Yoga or stretches
- Walking. You could try walking all or part of the way to prayers
- Chair-based exercises. The NHS has some simple exercises that you could try at home.
Find out more about staying active with a lung condition.