Marasmus is a severe form of protein-energy malnutrition. It happens when the intake of nutrients (such as proteins & calories) and energy is too low for a person’s needs. It leading to wasting, or the loss of body fat and muscle. A child with marasmus may not grow as children usually do and their vital functions begin to stop.
Malnutrition happens when a lack of nutrients causes health problems, usually because a person’s diet does not contain all the vitamins and nutrients that the body needs to function.
When an individual does not get the right nutrients, it is harder for their body to carry out routine processes that enable them to grow new cells or fight disease. As a result more serious problems can occur then.
Maresmus can occur in anyone who has severe malnutrition, but it usually occurs in children. It typically occurs in developing countries. It can be life threatening, but you can get treatment for it.
• The main symptom of marasmus is being underweight. Children with this condition have lost a lot of muscle mass and subcutaneous fat.
• Dry skin and sunken eyes
• Brittle hair
• Child look older and have little to no energy or enthusiasm for anything
• Stunted growth
• Chronic diarrhoea characterized with dehydration, electrolyte imbalance etc.
• Lower immunity
• Stomach infection with lactose intolerance
• Rickets due to calcium and vitamin D deficiency
• Anemia due to iron deficiency
• Intellectual disability
• Respiratory infections
• Low blood pressure or hypotension
• Low body temperature or hypothermia
• Slow heart rate or bradycardia
• Short tempered and irritable behaviour, which can be confused as a sign of Kwashioskor, as it is also another form of serious malnutrition.
Causes & Risk Factors –
Marasmus is mainly caused by nutrient deficiency due to malnourishment. It occurs in children that don’t ingest enough protein. calories, carbohydrates and other important nutrients.This happens usually due to poverty and a scarcity of food.
Here are some of risk factors of marasmus –
• Poor diet that lacks essential nutrients.
• Food shortages, more common in developing countries due to high poverty and lack of food issues.
• Insufficient breast feeding by malnourished mothers.
• Infections and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, celiac disease, pancreatic problems etc.
• Anorexia, means if someone is not getting enough food due to an eating disorder
Difference between Marasmus and Kwashiorkor –
• Like marasmus, Kwashiorkor is a type of malnutrition caused by protein deficiency.
• It mainly occurs in children who are weaning off breast milk, while marasmus can develop in infants.
• If your diet has a lot of carbohydrates and very little proteins, you may develop Kwashiorkor. This is not a concern for most people living in developed countries, and only occurs in severe cases of malnutrition.
For more information on the topic Kwashiorkor, please read on article on kwashioskar.
Complications of untreated marasmus can be serious and may include –
• Growth problems in children
• Loss of strength
• Joint deformity and destruction
• Loss of vision and blindness
• Organ failure or dysfunction
• Unconsciousness and Coma
A doctor can often make a preliminary diagnosis of marasmus through a physical exam.Measurements, such as height and weight, can help determine whether a child has marasmus.
A lack of motion in a malnourished child may also help confirm a diagnosis of marasmus.
Marasmus is difficult to diagnose using blood tests. This is because many children with marasmus also have infections that can affect blood test results.
Marasmus is a life-threatening medical emergency. When symptoms appear, the person needs treatment straight away.
A medical professional will need to prepare a specific eating plan for anyone with a diagnosis of marasmus. It is critical for a person with marasmus to receive a diet treatment that is rich in nutrients, carbohydrates and calories. They will need more calories than is usual for their age. However, their body may find it hard to tolerate or digest food after losing so much fat and body tissue.
One solution is to provide food in small amounts and possibly through tubes to the veins and stomach.
A full recovery can still take months, even with the right treatment plan. An individual may also need treatment for the complications, such as infections and dehydration.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
As per Ayurveda Marasmus can be correlated with Balashosha.It could be managed by Santarpana Chikitsa, which fulfill both factors of correction of Agni and nourishment of Dhatus.
• Kumar kalyan Ras
• Bala Taila
• Swarna Bhasm
For more informative articles on health issues, please visit our website www.santripty.com and also feel free to consult.