Kwashiorkor

Kwashiorkor is acute malnutrition that occurs mostly in children. This condition results from severe protein deficiencies. It is also known as “edematous malnutrition” because it is associated with oedema. The patients suffering from Kwashiorkor have an emaciated appearance all over the body. The ankles feet and belly swell with liquid.

Kwashiorkor is most common in rural areas, especially in the sub-Saharan regions. The famine struck areas or the areas with low food supply are more prone to this disease. Also, the areas where people are unaware of proper diet and nutrition have more cases of Kwashiorkor.

Causes of Kwashiorkor

Protein is required by our body to repair the cells and make new cells. It is an important nutrient during pregnancy and a child’s growth. Lack of proteins shuts down the growth and normal body functions, and this leads to Kwashiorkor. Kwashiorkor is mostly found in countries with a limited food supply. Lack of knowledge on a balanced diet and regional dependence on low protein food can also develop this condition.

Symptoms of Kwashiorkor

Following symptoms indicate the presence of Kwashiorkor:

  • Change in skin and hair colour and texture

  • Loss of weight

  • Swelling (oedema) of the ankles, feet, and belly

  • Irritation

  • Compromised immune system

  • Failure to gain muscle mass

  • Fatigue

  • Diarrhoea

Also read: Symptoms of Various Diseases

Diagnosis of Kwashiorkor

The patient is first tested for an enlarged liver or swelling. The level of sugar and protein is measured by simple blood and urine test. Other tests to measure the signs of malnutrition and protein deficiency include:

  • Complete blood count

  • Urinalysis

  • Arterial blood gas

  • Potassium blood levels

  • Creatinine blood levels

Treatment of Kwashiorkor

Food with more proteins and more calories can treat Kwashiorkor. Long term vitamin and mineral supplements are advised by the doctors. Calories need to be increased slowly because the patient’s diet lacked any significant nutrition for a long period. If there is a delay in the treatment, the child might stay with permanent physical and mental disabilities. If the condition is not treated, it might turn fatal.

Complications in Kwashiorkor

If the disease is not treated properly it might lead to the following complications

  • Physical disabilities

  • Mental disabilities

  • Coma

  • Shock

Kwashiorkor can also prove fatal if not treated properly.

For more information on Kwashiorkor or any other related topics, please visit BYJU’S website or download BYJU’S app.

Further reading: Food Deficiency

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