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With regard to hilkhoth shabbath, a choleh she'ein bo sakana (one with a non-life-threatening illness) is allowed to engage in therapeutic activites, such as taking medication. This is not the case with regard to a meichush (minor discomfort) because of a Rabbinic prohibition of performing therapies on Shabbath (refuah; see Shemirath Shabbath KeHilchatha 34:1,3 cited by http://www.halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Medicine_on_Shabbat). A generally accepted criterion to distinguish between these two classes of affliction is whether one would lie down because of the illness (see Mishnah Berurah 328:121 and Rabbi Dovid Ribiat's "The 39 Melachos" vol. 2 p. 492).

Separately, we find that by fasts other than Yom Kippur, a choleh she'ein bo sakana is not obligated to fast (see Shulchan Arukh 554:4). By analogy, shouldn't this mean that anyone who would lie down because of how he feels should not be obligated to fast (and, at the very least, should be allowed to take, e.g., caffeine pills or Tylenol to reduce or preempt, e.g., a caffeine-withdrawal headache)? If not, what is the reason to distinguish between these two areas?

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    Sources for your many claims would increase the value of this post – Double AA Jul 28 '15 at 4:11
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    Tish'a B'Av is another exception where there is a stricter fast level. I'm particualrlay curious about your source of using the "lying down" criteria as the standard. – DanF Jul 28 '15 at 13:32
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    @DanF A choleh she'eyn bo sakana is also not obligated to fast on tisha b'av. I believe poskim try to distinguish Tisha B'Av with regard to pregnant or nursing women who don't qualify as choleh she'eyn bo sakana. see the Aruch HaShulchan... – Loewian Jul 28 '15 at 14:30
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    Who says one cannot use pills? From the fact that we generally do not require swallowed pills to be kosher, do we not see that they are not considered food? – wfb Jul 28 '15 at 14:33
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    According to Rabbi Doniel Neustadt one may take tylenol on a fast day. > When suffering from a severe headache, etc., aspirin or Tylenol, etc., > may be taken. The poskim, however, do not permit taking those > medications with water, unless the water is first made to have a bad > taste – Gershon Gold Nov 17 '15 at 19:00

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