Health experts in Oman warn against sheesha smoking after fasting

Home & Away Monday 27/June/2016 22:34 PM
By: Times News Service
Health experts in Oman warn against sheesha smoking after fasting

Muscat: Smoking water pipes in busy souks or hotels could be the rage among Omanis and expats during Ramadan evenings or Iftaar parties, but smokers could be at risk for strong acidity, heart and lung disease, and even cancer, health officials have warned.
“Don’t be fooled and avoid smoking; sheesha smoking is equivalent to 10-15 cigarettes,” an advisory issued by the health ministry said on Monday.
“(This is) a month of virtue and fasting, so make it free of smoke,” the ministry notice urged.
Akin to 10 cigarettes
Last month, authorities enacted tighter regulations on sheesha cafés in the Sultanate. Such cafés must now be located at least 200 metres from residential areas, as well as governmental, educational, health and religious buildings.
During Ramadan, sheesha smoking picks up pace, with many hotels and cafes offering water pipes after Iftaar meals and before Suhur pre-dawn meals.
“It (the advisory) was in reference to the Egyptian medical journal, which reports that smoking sheesha for one hour is equivalent to smoking 10 or more cigarettes. So whether one is fasting or not, it has the same effects. The damage would be the same,” Dr B Gowri Sankar, physician and medical director at Starcare hospital, told Times of Oman.
“We do get a lot of people who are into this habit. They end up having complications related to heart, lung, and high blood pressure,” he said.
Such patients, Dr Sankar noted, are offered behavioural therapy or are cared for by psychiatrists and psychologists. Others are prescribed medicines which help in their quitting smoking.
“During Ramadan, stomach upset and acidity are immediate effects of Sheesha smoking,” Dr Sankar added.
Dehydrated body
Others say that dehydrated bodies process toxins found in smoke much quicker when fasting.
“The metabolic status of a fasting person is altered. So Sheesha smoking, per se, will create a much bigger problem. When the stomach is empty, toxins are going to affect a person more severely. The chances are a person could develop acute respiratory problems,” Dr Rajesh, a senior doctor at Atlas Hospital, told Times of Oman.
He said allergies and chest infections become more noticeable due to fasting.
Smoking sheesha could affect a person’s wind pipe, too, he added.
“Because if a person is dehydrated and, when they smoke, the toxins are much more concentrated. There is much less mucus inside the wind pipe during Ramadan, because the body is in a dry condition. A person could develop acute problems,” Dr Rajesh added.
Sheesha might smell nice because of several flavours tobacco is available in, but being dehydrated could accelerate the process resulting in health complications, experts warn.