Why kids and adults commonly suffer from malnutrition and such diseases as kwashiorkor in Nigeria? Find out what this sickness is and how it could be cured.
There exist many terrible global problems. Malnutrition and starvation are those, which are considered the most severe and, unfortunately, quite widespread ones. However, it’s essential to understand that there're different types of such kind of problem. They may vary according to the particular factors and reasons. Many people keep asking “What is kwashiorkor?”. That is why this type of malnutrition we are going to consider.
Various types of this phenomenon aren’t the same. It’s important not only to know the key features, but also to understand the term meaning. Thus, kwashiorkor denotes one of the of protein-energy malnutrition forms. The word itself originates from the Ga language. It means “the disease the young child developed when displaced from his mother by another child or pregnancy”.
Malnutrition types and key features
As it's been said, there’re several main forms of this “illness”, which include the following:
Marasmus: severe malnutrition characterized by the deficiency of energy. There is a constant reduction of body weight (up to less than 60% of normal weight). Its occurrence is higher among the children up to the age of one year. Buttocks and upper limb muscles are more affected during the illness. The symptoms may include:
unusual body temperature,
not severe edema,
abdominal, dermal and/or ocular manifestations,
nose, ear, and throat symptoms.
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Cachexia: it’s a wasting syndrome. It's characterized by weight loss, muscles atrophy, fatigue, weakness, and the loss of appetite. It is also described as the body mass loss, which can’t be reversed with food. It is common among people who suffer from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, acrodynia, hormonal deficiency, and so on. Such syndrome increases the risks of death for the patients.
Emaciation: it is extreme weight loss and thinness due to subcutaneous fat and muscle loss. The cause of it is severe starvation. It’s the main symptom of malnourishment. It usually occurs with the diseases affecting digestive system and appetite (including nutrient deficiency disorders, infectious and malignant diseases, parasitic infections, anorexia nervosa, etc.).
Starvation: it’s a severe deficiency in caloric energy. A person consumes calories, which are not enough for maintaining life. This form is thought to be the most extreme. It may lead to organs damage and, finally, death.
Kwashiorkor: it’s protein-energy malnutrition. A person has enough calories, but not enough proteins. It usually occurs in areas where there're famine and poor food supply. The cases of this type are quite rare; however, sometimes they may take place. This illness is more common among the children after 18 months. It may happen, for instance, when a mother weans a child from breast milk. The baby used to get proteins from it. And now his or her diet contains plenty of carbs, sugar, and not enough proteins. Children who have kwashiorkor, cannot grow and develop properly. It may take the whole life to be cured.
None of the illnesses occurs spontaneously and without a reason. Thus, the main causes of kwashiorkor contain:
natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc.).
All these things usually lead to the lack of supplies. This form of malnutrition is more frequent in developing countries.
The statistics shows the following figures:
About 852 million people were undernourished during the period from 2000 to 2002. Most of them lived in developing countries. There has been little change for the better during the last decade. Some of the states display improvement (like China), however, there is constant worsening in the others.
under the age of 5 year
Let’s have a look at the prevalence of protein-energy malnutrition around the world:
Latin America and Caribbean
As you can see, the largest numbers are displayed in African and Asian states.
Diagnosis and treatment
In addition to the question “What is kwashiorkor?”, people also ask about the ways of its diagnosis and treatments.
The first symptom the doctors usually notice is an enlarged liver. Besides, there can be swelling. To make sure what kind of disease it is, they may order special tests, which will show the amount of sugar and proteins in the patient’s blood. Such tests might be done either on blood or urine samples. In addition, there can be some other tests prescribed to measure the signs of malnutrition, including:
Doctors are interested in:
arterial blood gas,
complete blood count (CBC),
blood urea nitrogen (BUN),
blood levels of potassium,
blood levels of creatinine.
It's possible to treat kwashiorkor only with the full assistance of specialists. He / she should control the process of treatment and any changes in it. The general way includes the consumption of more proteins and more calories. There are several steps:
First, a patient needs to get enough calories and fats. They might be provided with sugars, products with the high content of carbs.
As soon as a person receives enough energy, proteins can be included. It’s essential that the amount of calories and foods should be increased very slowly (because the body have to adjust to it).
The doctor can also recommend certain supplements such as vitamins or minerals.
Treatment usually consists of:
nutritional support (described above).
The result of treatment depends on how early you have started it. If it has been initiated from the very start of the illness, then the recovery might be quite positive. However, there are still the risks that you’ll never reach the same growth and weight potential.
In the cases, when treatment has been delayed, it may be successful. However, some physical and mental impairments might stay forever.
Sometimes, when treatment is too late, the disease can lead to death.
The best way to avoid any terrible complications and consequences is to prevent the disease. To do it, you need to get enough proteins and calories in order to have energy for growth and life maintaining. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 10 to 35 percent of daily calories should come from protein.
Food, containing protein, includes:
Being a third world country, Nigeria is prone to the issue of kwashiorkor. To avoid any terrible consequences it’s important to know about the symptoms and different ways of treatment. Remember, that such patients will need the specialists' assistance.
The best way to solve this global problem is to support and assist people in developing countries. It’s vital for everyone to consume enough proteins and calories to maintain life, grow healthy, and reduce infant mortality in the world.
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