Kwashiorkor is a serious form of malnutrition, and it’s more common in regions where children and babies don’t get enough protein or essential nutrients in their diet. The primary sign of kwashiorkor is when the body tissues have too much fluid, and this causes swelling under the skin, which usually begins in the legs and evolves into the whole body.
The symptoms of kwashiorkor include:
- Loss of body/muscle mass
- Enlarged tummy
- Regular infections that may also last long
- Red, inflammation patched
- Brittle hair
- Failure to grow
- Cracked nails
The primary cause of kwashiorkor is not consuming enough essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins. The disorder is more common in developing countries with limited food, poor hygiene, or less education about the importance of giving children and babies an adequate diet.
Kwashiorkor is rare in developed countries but can occasionally occur due to severe neglect, long-term illness, low or less knowledge about good nutrition. Though it can affect all age groups, it’s more common among children and babies.
Often kwashiorkor can be diagnosed based on physical appearance and dietary questions. But blood tests and urine test helps to rule out the possibility of the condition. The tests include:
- Blood sugar tests
- Protein levels check
- Kidney and liver test
- Vitamin and minerals check in the body
- Urine test
Other tests include growth measurements, BMI, body water content, and skin and hair sample for biopsy.
Doctor treatments usually include:
- Treatment for low blood glucose
- Make sure to keep the person warm
- Dehydration treatments
- Vitamins and minerals supplements
- Gradually increasing the amount of food
The treatments usually take 2–6 weeks and do not self-diagnose. Kindly consult a doctor for advice.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 23 JUNE 2022