What is Malnutrition?
Malnutrition is the condition whereby there is insufficient nutrition available to the body - the body is under nourished. Malnutrition deprives the body of the highly essential nutrition that it needs to carry out everyday activities and functions. A report published by the World Health Organization stated for malnutrition to be the biggest contributor towards child mortality. This world-wide menace may manifest in the form of a host of diseases, each displaying a varying set of signs and symptoms.
Some of the most common diseases caused by malnutrition, which may also explain what malnutrition is in a more profound manner, are as follows:
One of the most common malnutrition diseases is marasmus which is caused because of a deficiency in both proteins and calories. In this disease, the weight of the person suffering from malnutrition maybe lower than 80% of the average body weight. This disease is more common amongst infants lesser than one year of age and is more prevalent in countries such as Africa and other third world nations.
The symptoms of this disease may include edema, dry, lose and saggy skin and loss of the adipose tissue especially around the thighs and buttocks. Furthermore, the person suffering from this condition may also be constantly irritable and rapaciously hungry and may also become less immune and more susceptible to catching infectious diseases, adding onto the trail way to mortality.
The treatment process of this condition involves providing the individual with supplements of all the nutrition that the individual is deficient in along with treating for dehydration and any infections that the person may have caught or acquired due to low resistance caused by this condition.
Kwashiorkor is a malnutrition disease characterized by a deficiency in proteins and calories. However, scientists now believe that a deficiency in certain important vitamins and minerals may also lead to kwashiorkor.
The symptoms of kwashiorkor include an upset stomach, thinning of hair, an enlarged liver, dermatitis, skin pigmentation, loss of teeth and edema in the feet which is almost always present. Furthermore, the person may also be constantly irritable and mostly anorexic as well. Moreover, even kwashiorkor weakens the person’s immunity system, making them more susceptible to infectious diseases.
The treatment to kwashiorkor is exactly the same as that of marasmus.
Anemia is one of the most common conditions that arise from malnutrition, and is usually characterized by a lack and deficiency of iron and vitamin B12 in the body.
The symptoms of anemia include shortness of breath, fatigue, tiredness and lethargy.
The treatment of this disease once again entails consuming food and a diet that is rich in iron and vitamin B12, supplements and a close check on the levels of this vitamin and mineral in the body.
Goiter is a disease caused by malnutrition dependent on a deficiency in iodine. The typical symptoms of goiter display a swelling of the thyroid gland which can be very visibly seen as a large swelling in the neck. Sometimes, this swelling can be large enough to cause a compression in the windpipe making it hard to breathe. This condition is more prevalent in nations with soils lacking in iodine or where food supplements available are not particularly iodized.
The typical symptoms of this condition caused by malnutrition include a swelling in the thyroid gland, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, lethargy, susceptibility to cold, weakness and a low metabolic rate.
The treatment of this horrible effect of malnutrition condition typically depends on the size of the swelling posing to be a goiter. If the size of the goiter is relatively smaller and the major cause behind it is limited to a slight deficiency in iodine, then the condition can be treatment by iodine supplements. However, if the swelling is large and is compressing the windpipe, then surgical procedure may be required.
The most obvious line of treatment for this condition is a diet overflowing with the mineral potassium. However, if the individual is also suffering from dehydration and diarrhea then fluid replenishment and antibiotic treatment become rather essential as well.
Pellagra is a disease pertaining to malnutrition caused by a deficiency in niacin and the amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is primarily a precursor of niacin, so if the body does not have enough tryptophan, it will automatically lack niacin.
The most common symptoms of this malnutrition disease include diarrhea, dermatitis which is condition characterized by scaly red lesions that can be disfiguring and dementia which includes states of depression, delusion, sleep deprivation and memory loss.
This malnutrition disease is not as prevalent now as it used to be before. However, individuals who suffer from this disease should increase their intake of foods that are high in niacin. Good sources of niacin include meats, fish, poultry, lentils, yeast, milk, coffee and tea to name a few.
Scurvy is a malnutrition disease that is characterized by a deficiency in Viatmin C. Vitamin C has the designated job of making collagen which in turn holds our cells together. A deficiency of vitamin C means that our tendons, bones, ligaments and blood vessels can be susceptible to breakage.
The basic symptoms of the malnutrition disease of scurvy include bleeding and bruising easily, loss of hair and teeth and swelling in the joints coupled with severe pain.
The only treatment that can rectify this malnutrition disease and condition of scurvy is an increase in foods that are host to mounds of Vitamin C. These foods include citrus fruits, camel’s milk, guavas, potatoes, tomatoes peppers etc. However make sure you eat these raw or slightly cooked as vitamin C is not very resistant to heat and may be destroyed if processed that way.
Rickets is a malnutrition disease which is caused due to a deficiency in Vitamin D, calcium or phosphorous. If your blood stream lacks the minerals calcium or phosphorous, your body will extract these out of your bones rendering them weak. Similarly, it is not good to lack Vitamin D either, as if your body lacks this vitamin, it will not be able to absorb calcium and phosphorous to their entirety.
The symptoms of the malnutrition disease of rickets primarily revolve around skeletal deformities, pain in the bones, fragile bones, weak muscles and stunted growth.
Just like all other malnutrition diseases, the most preferable line of treatment pertaining to rickets also involves a diet that is high in the vitamins and minerals the body is deficient in. Vitamin D can be found extensively in fatty fish, cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice and egg yolks.