KWASHIORKOR: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment


 KWASHIORKOR: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

 Understanding kwashiorkor

Kwashiorkor, also known as “edematous malnutrition” because of its association with edema(fluid retention). Furthermore, it is a nutritional disorder most often in regions experiencing famine. Besides that, lack of protein in the diet cause a form of malnutrition. Moreover, people who have this typically have an extreme appearance in all body parts except their ankles, feet, and belly, which swell with fluid.

Most people who have kwashiorkor recover fully if they recieve treatment early. Treatment involves introducing extra calories and protein into the diet. There can be serious complications when treatment is taking time, including coma, shock, and permanent mental and physical disabilities. if you don’t treat it, kwashiorkor can be life-threatening. It can cause major organ failure and eventually death.

What are the causes?

Kwashiorkor is caused by a lack of protein in the diet. Every cell in your body contains protein. You need protein in your diet for your body to repair cells and make new cells. A healthy human body regenerates cells in this way constantly. Protein is also especially important for growth during childhood and pregnancy. If the body lacks protein, growth and normal body functions will begin to shut down, and kwashiorkor may develop.

Besides that, a lack of nutritional knowledge and regional dependence on low-protein diets, such the maize-based diets of many countries, can also cause people to develop this condition.

Furthermore, this condition is rare in countries where most people have access to enough food and are able to eat adequate amounts of protein. Also, If  it does occur in Nigeria, it can be a sign of abuse, neglect, or fad diets, and it is mostly in children or older adults. Moreover, it can also be a sign of an underlying condition, such as HIV.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include:

  • change in skin and hair color (to a rust color) and texture
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • loss of muscle mass
  • failure to grow or gain weight
  • edema (swelling) of the ankles, feet, and belly
  • damaged immune system, which can lead to more frequent and severe infections
  • irritability
  • flaky rash
  • shock

How is it diagnosed?

If you suspect it, your doctor will first examine you to check for an enlarge liver (hepatomegaly) and swelling. Next, blood and they will ask for urine tests to measure the level of protein and sugar in your blood.

Furthermore, they will perform other tests on your blood and urine to measure signs of malnutrition and lack of protein. Besides that, these tests may look for muscle breakdown and assess kidney function, overall health, and growth.

How is it treated?

Kwashiorkor treatment is by eating more protein and more calories overall, especially if treatment is starting early.

Furthermore, they may give you more calories in the form of carbohydrates, sugars, and fats. Once these calories provide energy. introduce foods and calories should increase slowly. Your body may need to adjust to the increase intake.

What are the complications of kwashiokor?

Even with treatment, children who have had it may never reach their full growth and height potential. If treatment comes too late, a child may have permanent physical and mental disabilities.

If left untreated, the condition can lead to coma, shock, or death.

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