16 Early Kwashiorkor Symptoms and Causes

Kwashiorkor, often known as “edematous malnutrition” because of its connection with edema (fluid preservation), is a nutritional dysfunction frequently observed in areas suffering from famine. It is a type of malnutrition caused by insufficient proteins in the eating habits. Individuals who have kwashiorkor often have an extremely emaciated physical appearance in most parts of the body apart from their ankles, feet, and belly, which swell up with fluid. Kwashiorkor is hardly found in the United States and other countries with a usually constant food supply. It’s most common in sub-Saharan Africa as well as other places in which the majority of individuals regularly have a very minimal availability of food stuff. The majority of individuals who unluckily are affected by kwashiorkor recover entirely once they have been treated earlier.

Kwashiorkor causes, symptoms, treatment

Kwashiorkor is a health issue that mainly affects children which is brought on by an inadequate quantity of proteins in the eating habits. It is also known as protein malnutrition or malignant nutrition. It normally develops in areas affected by famine or drought or in areas where food is in short supply. Places characterized by a lack or decreased levels of education and learning are also at risk of this disorder, due to a non-understanding of its reasons.

Signs and Symptoms of Kwashiorkor

The signs and symptoms of kwashiorkor are:

  • Decreased muscle volume
  • Upset stomach
  • Change in skin color
  • Unable to gain weight
  • Weakness
  • Changes in color and texture of hairs
  • Damaged immune system
  • Irritation
  • Large belly that protrudes
  • Apathy
  • Lethargy
  • Rashes (dermatitis)
  • Shock (late stage)
  • Swelling on ankles and knees
  • Cracked nails
  • Failure of body growth

Kwashiorkor can be fatal if it’s not treated for too long because children become very vulnerable to infections or they can go into coma.

Kwashiorkor Symptoms and Signs in Adults

Kwashiorkor is rarely found in adults. Symptoms in adults are as follows:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in the color and texture of hairs
  • Swelling on the ankles and knees
  • Dermatitis
  • Uneven skin pigment
  • Pot shaped abdomen

The above are the signs and symptoms of kwashiorkor in adults.

Causes of Kwashiorkor Diseases

Kwashiorkor is due to a deficiency in required proteins in the eating habit. Every cell in the body has protein. You will require protein in your daily diet plan for the entire body to repair cells and even produce new cells. A healthy human being body regenerates cells in this way constantly. Protein is especially vital for growth and development of body during childhood and pregnancy. Whenever the body system falls short of protein, growth and regular body functions will begin to shut down, and kwashiorkor may develop. Kwashiorkor is most common in countries where there exists a very limited supply or inadequate food. It is mainly seen in young children and toddlers and newborns.

A restricted supply or lack of food is usual in these countries during times of famine caused by natural calamities — such as droughts or floods — or political unrest. Bad nutritional knowledge and local reliance on low-protein diets, such the maize-based can even cause people to cultivate this condition. This problem is rare in countries wherein a lot of people have enough food and can consume sufficient amounts of proteins. This can also be a sign of an underlying situation, such as HIV.

Kwashiorkor is Caused Due to:

  • Famine
  • Limited food supply
  • Low levels of education (when people do not understand how to eat a proper diet)

The principal cause of kwashiorkor is a lack of proteins and other essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. It’s most common in developing countries with a limited food supply, poor sanitation, and a lack of education and learning about the importance of giving babies and children an appropriate diet. Kwashiorkor is can often occur because of severe neglect, long term illness, knowledge about good nutrition, or a very restrained diet. Although kwashiorkor could affect people of all ages, it’s more common in children adults.

How Kwashiorkor Diseases Can be Diagnosed?

Kwashiorkor is normally detected based upon a child’s physical appearance and queries regarding their eating habits and care. However, blood and urine lab tests can be performed to prevent other problems. This can include tests to:

  • CBC: Complete Blood Count
  • Arterial blood gas
  • BUN: Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Creatinine clearance
  • Serum creatinine
  • Serum potassium
  • Total protein levels
  • Urinalysis

Treatment of Kwashiorkor

Kwashiorkor is generally settled if you eat more protein and more calories overall, especially when treatment is started early.

You might first be given extra calories in the form of carbs, sugar, and body fats. When these calories provide energy, you may be given foods with proteins. Foods needs to be introduced and healthy calories should be improved slowly when you have been without appropriate nutrition for a long time. Your body may need to adapt to the increased consumption.

Your doctor will also advise long-term vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet. Ever since the individual will have been without enough food for a long period of the time, eating may cause problems, especially when the calories are extremely high at the beginning. Food needs to be reintroduced slowly.

A lot of malnourished children will certainly develop intolerance to milk sugars (lactose intolerance). They will need to be provided health supplements with the enzyme lactase so they can tolerate milk products.

Hospital Treatment will Normally Include:

  • Treating or avoiding low blood glucose
  • Always keeping the individual warm – kwashiorkor can make it more difficult to generate body heat
  • Treating dehydration with specifically formulated rehydration solution
  • Treating bacterial infections with antibiotics – kwashiorkor considerably increases the risk of bacterial infections
  • The treatment of vitamin and mineral inadequacies vitamin supplements are generally included in the special milks or RUTF
  • Gradually introducing minimal amounts of food before gradually increasing the amount of food
    The entire process normally requires between 2 and 6 weeks to accomplish. If treatment was started early, the person will usually recover well, although children may never reach their full growth potential and be shorter than their peers.

More Information on Kwashiorkor Diseases

Kwashiorkor could be serious if it’s unattended. It can certainly result in major organ failure and finally the loss of life. A malnutrition disorder, mainly in children and kids, caused by serious protein insufficiency which often takes place whenever the child is weaned from the breast. The baby will not slim down as noticeably and will not appear as sick as a marasmic child, who falls short of both proteins and calories.

Treatment includes introducing excess calories and proteins into the eating habits. Small children who develop kwashiorkor might not grow or even develop appropriately and may stay stunted throughout their lives. There may be significant issues whenever treatment is postponed, such as coma, shock, and long-term mental and physical disabilities.

Some at present think that kwashiorkor may connect with bacterial grain contamination and occur whenever the freshly weaned child starts to consume grain products. Ultimately the following signs and symptoms occur: slowed down growth, variations in skin and hair pigmentation, diarrhea, decrease in appetite, nervous irritation, sleepiness, edema, anemia, fatty degeneration of the liver, necrosis, dermatoses, and fibrosis, often accompanied with infection and multivitamin inadequacies. Mainly because nutritional fats are improperly tolerated in kwashiorkor, its treatment includes a skimmed milk method in early feedings, followed by extra foods until the full, well balanced and healthy diet plan is attained.

Very poor nations possess a higher tragedy of kwashiorkor. Infants acquire the necessary supply of required protein rich vitamins and minerals from the mother’s milk, but once the breastfeeding period comes to an end, the food which they begin to eat includes only carbohydrates and starch. Protein is, hence, totally missing which results in kwashiorkor. (Source :- All Health Post)


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