CAIRO: Abstaining from tobacco, caffeine, food and drink are some of the reasons why street brawls surge in Egypt during Ramadan, according to doctors.
Dr. Ahmed El-Zonfoly said the reason behind the anger, especially during daylight hours in Ramadan, was that people experienced withdrawal symptoms from “bad habits.”
Muslims are forbidden to eat and drink between sunrise and sunset during the holy month and an absence of substances like caffeine and nicotine changed people’s moods.
El-Zonfoly said that smokers felt lazy, inactive, hot-tempered, and lacked the desire to work when quitting nicotine. The more time they spent not smoking, the more they were subjected to stress and anxiety. But these symptoms, he added, were due to addiction rather than fasting.
Director of the Psychological Health Center in Cairo, Dr. Ashraf El-Kurdi, said it was not true that there was a link between an increase in tension and Ramadan.
Nervousness or anxiety had nothing to do with fasting but was more to do with people’s unhealthy habits before and after Ramadan that were abruptly halted because of fasting.
He said studies had shown that water played a big role in how the brain functioned since the brain was 75 percent water. “Not drinking water during fasting could be directly responsible for the malfunction of brain cells, which leads to nervousness, anxiety and low concentration, and sometimes hallucinations.”
Staying up late and a lack of sleep were among the reasons that also caused anxiety during fasting, he added. The lack of sleep could be because of work or watching too much TV late into the night. In this case daytime hours became harder to manage, especially with just a few hours in between iftar and suhoor. On the other hand, sleeping early yielded positive results including better moods, according to El-Kurdi.
Dr. Omar El-Tawansy told Arab News that when a fasting person was angry, stressed out or anxious, the excretion of adrenaline in the body increased in the blood, possibly 20 or 30 times higher than normal.
If this happened while fasting, arterial blood pressure might rise, increasing the amount of blood getting to the heart as well as increasing the heartbeat.
If a row erupted at midday or at the end of the day, the remaining supply of glycogen dissolved in the liver, body protein dissolved into amino acids, and more fatty acids were oxidized. These abnormal body functions raised the level of glucose in the blood therefore providing the body with more energy for fighting. “Thus, energy is wasted,” according to El-Tawansy.
He added that an adrenaline rush could cause heart attacks or sudden death for some people as a result of high blood pressure, and the heart’s need for oxygen. Anger could also cause strokes in those suffering from cardiovascular disease.
An absence of a moral and religious foundation was another factor that sometimes resulted in violent behavior, according to security expert Magdy El-Basiouny.
He said the reason behind fights and arguments between people during Ramadan could be attributed to a lack of religious foundation as well as a loose grasp of morals and ethics. He said that a surge in crime often ran parallel with the absence of a moral or ethical compass.
“Economic crises are unlikely to be a reason behind fights and arguments,” he told Arab News. “It is rather the absence of social awareness and morals, a poor upbringing, and the absence of the roles of the family and school in bringing up youngsters.”
Nutrition expert Nadine Shoukry advised people who were fasting to quit smoking and to drink large amounts of fluids between iftar and suhoor because fluids maintained proper brain function.
She also said people should cut down on the amount of food they ate at iftar in order to aid proper digestion which, she added, would lead to better arterial blood pumping throughout the day, decreasing nervousness and stress.