What Is Marasmus? Its Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Options

Marasmus is commonly seen in children in the developing nations, like, Latin America, Africa, and South Asia, where insufficient food supplies and contaminated water are hugely prevalent. Inadequate food results in malnourishment; while, contaminated water contains bacteria and parasite which enter the body and cause infections; thereby complicating the condition.

Marasmus is one of the gravest types of protein-energy malnutrition in the world.

Marasmus is a slightly severe kind of malnourishment that is characterized by chronic wasting of fat, muscle, and other body tissues. Malnutrition develops when the body fails to get adequate amounts of calories and proteins. Poor nutrition may be only a deficiency of certain vitamins to absolute undernourishment and starvation.

Symptoms Of Marasmus

The symptoms of marasmus differ depending up on the severity of the disorder and if there is any associated infection at that time. General manifestations and features of the disease are chronic diarrhea, exhaustion, giddiness, and quick weight loss. If the sole cause for the disorder is poor nutrition, then changing and improving the diet will help remedy the problem and also avert recurrences. Marasmus related to an underlying medical condition requires supplementary management.

Common symptoms of marasmus include:

Symptoms may become apparent everyday or just once in a while. Occasionally, the symptoms can be rather severe:

  • Chronic, persistent diarrhea.
  • Tiredness.
  • Faintness.
  • Inexplicable loss of weight.

Symptoms of marasmus that point towards a serious problem include:

  • An alteration in the level of consciousness; lassitude and sluggishness; giddiness.
  • Complete or partial paralysis of the legs.
  • Loss of bowel / bladder control.
  • Long drawn out periods of diarrhea and vomiting.

Causes And Risk Factors For Marasmus

Marasmus is a malnutrition disorder wherein insufficient quantities of calories as well as proteins are consumed, consequently setting off an energy shortfall. The condition is fairly common in developing nations or in nations where there is insufficient food supply, contaminated water, and poverty.

It is by and large seen in children in the regions having a high percentage of paucity, such as Latin America, Africa and South Asia. Nevertheless, marasmus is also known to develop in adults; as well as in people in the developed nations.

Marasmus Risk Factors

Certain factors increase the risk of developing marasmus. These include:

  • Contaminated water.
  • Chronic hunger and starvation.
  • Insufficient food.
  • Vitamin deficiencies (especially, vitamins A, E or K).
  • Poor and unbalanced diet.
  • A diet that is lacking in grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables.

Treatment For Marasmus

  • The primary outline to manage a case of marasmus is making the dietary corrections. A nutritious, well-balanced and wholesome diet comprising of adequate amounts of grains, proteins rich foods and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables will help decrease the risk of malnutrition.
  • The treatment of marasmus entails feeding and re-hydration and careful medical supervision and observation to manage as well as ward off any complications of malnutrition.
  • Nutrition rehabilitation centers for children have been set up in various countries to synchronize the treatment of marasmus children.
  • IV fluids, oral re-hydration solutions, and naso-gastric feeding tubes may also be used in certain cases.

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