Malnutrition represents a total lack of inadequate nutrition. It is a lack of healthy food in the diet or can be associated with the continual consumption of unhealthy foods; both will lead to ill health.
Malnutrition is the biggest cause of death especially among children throughout the world particularly in third world countries. It is caused by various deficiency disorders associated with lack of protein ands vitamins in the daily diet
There are a number of diseases caused by malnutrition so it is important to know of some of these diseases, and the signs of malnutrition in order to be able to deal with them. But inevitably the main cause of malnutrition is poverty brought about by lack of jobs in the third world and a total inequality in the distribution of wealth.
Some Diseases Caused by Malnutrition.
- Kwashiorker. This common form of malnutrition is caused by a complete lack of proteins, vitamins and minerals in the diet. The signs of this disease are many but typically include a swollen stomach, loss of teeth, an enlarged liver, and skin disease. A further symptom of kwashiorkor is edema of the feet which results in swollen feet due to excess fluid building up in the cell tissue in this area. With the subsequent lowering of overall health the sufferer becomes extremely susceptible to other types of disease, and lacking vital nutrients, the body often fails to respond to vaccinations administered against other diseases.
- Marasmus. Marasmus is of almost epidemic proportions in parts of Africa and particular other third world countries. It is commonly found in young children and is directly attributable to protein and calorie deficiency. The disease causes severe emaciation and wasting of the muscles. The sufferer is continually hungry and will show signs of extreme irritability. The person will be highly susceptible to other diseases, which in turn add to an already high mortality rate from Marasmus
- Anemia. The main causes of anemia are lack of iron and lack of vitamin B12 in the diet. This disease is relatively common throughout the world and by no means confined to third world areas, where the condition is equally common. It can often be observed in pregnant women and shows by causing shortness of breath, changes in skin pallor, and general lethargy.
- Goiter. The symptoms of goiter are an enlargement of the thyroid gland which occasionally becomes so swollen as to interfere with breathing due to the larynx becoming compressed. Goiter is caused primarily due to the lack of the mineral Iodine. The natural environment in some countries does not contain iodine in the soil, and it has to be obtained as a food supplement.
- Hyponatremia. This condition is often associated with a high antidiuretic hormone level, and is caused by a deficiency of the mineral Sodium, with levels of the mineral being lower than 135mEq/L. in blood plasma. The signs of deficiency are vomiting and headaches. If not treated these signs will develop into mental confusion, seizures, and loss of cognitive ability.