malnutrition

What is Malnutrition Its Types Causes and Possible Treatment

Malnutrition can occur at any age, but in our society it is more frequent in children, pregnant women and the elderly

In our society, obesity is the great epidemic of the 21st century. When we talk about malnutrition, our mind starts thinking about developing countries or the third world.

But recently, and due to the onset of the economic crisis, the media began to talk about malnutrition in our society and in children.

Faced with this situation, several questions may arise. This First one is what is the difference between malnutrition and weight loss? Is losing weight harmful? What consequences and dangers does malnutrition have for our health? How can we avoid it?

The malnutrition is a clinical picture caused by an imbalance between intake of nutrients and nutritional needs of an individual.

There Are 2 Types Of Malnutrition

  1. By excess, when the intake is higher than the needs of the person, in the case of obesity and
  2. By default when the intake is below the needs, known as malnutrition.

Malnutrition can happen when the diet that taken does not contain the proper balance of nutrients. For example in people who follow a diet high in calories but deficient in vitamins and minerals. Thus, being malnourished does not always mean that the person is thin or underweight.

The most common symptom of malnutrition is weight loss and serious health complications, which can even lead to death.

Higher Risk

Malnutrition can occur at any age. People with the highest risk of presenting it are those over 65 years of age, especially if they live in poor places, people who suffer from chronic diseases (high blood pressure, heart disease, hip fracture, glucose disorders, depression …) and people without household and low-income who may have difficulty purchasing food.

In those over 65 years of age, malnutrition affects approximately 4% of the population and 22-25% is at risk of suffering from it. The risk is higher in women than in men, in the elderly and in those who live in residences or enter a hospital, which can be 50-60%.

The most common symptom of malnutrition is weight loss. Thus, those who lose up to 10% of their body weight in 3 months without dieting are considered malnourished.

There May Be Other Symptoms of Malnutrition Such As

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of strength
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anemia, skin changes
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • In children growth retardation
  • Problems in schooling

Several factors are those that lead to malnutrition and are classified into 3 categories:

  1. Insufficient intake of energy and nutrients, ultimately food.
  2. Increased nutritional needs, such as chronic diseases (COPD, fractures, heart disease …) cancer, children and pregnant women who need more nutrients.
  3. The loss of nutrients as in cases of chronic diarrhea. These factors often combine with each other.

Special mention should be made of older people. Aging is associated with a series of changes in our body:

  • Decrease in physical needs so there is a tendency to eat less;
  • Tooth loss, making it difficult to chew;
  • Loss of senses, trouble noticing the different flavors of food;
  • Difficulty absorbing nutrients through the digestive system
  • Difficulty walking or performing activities of daily life due to osteoarthritis

Consequences of Malnutrition

The consequences of malnutrition are many and affect the ability to work and the quality of life as well as.

  • Immune function is affected, favoring the appearance of infections.
  • The function of the different organs is altered
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Greater fatigue to carry out different activities of life, immobility
  • Wound healing is delayed
  • Ulcers may appear
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration may appear and in children growth retardation, among others.

All these symptoms begin to appear when the weight loss is greater than 10%. The diagnosis of malnutrition is clinical, marked by weight loss, but other symptoms and signs are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Greater difficulty in doing things for no apparent reason
  • Slow metabolism and excretion of different nutrients

A person who eats less and loses weight involuntarily would have to consult a health professional to find out the causes and find a solution.

How Is Malnutrition Treated?

In the first place, the cause has to be sought and treated, but the diet of undernourished people has to be increased. In the case of those who can eat, the health professional will tell a balanced diet to allow weight gain. Enrich it with nutrients. So that, more energy and proteins are provided with the same volume. You can eat five or six meals throughout the day. But very rich in nutrients, for example a cooked egg white can be added to a vegetable puree.

If the person cannot eat or the lack of appetite then liquid supplements, powders or bars rich in energy or micro nutrients can be used. Diet and daily activity of the individual must be under the supervision of the health professional. This way he will be able to reverse this weight loss and the appearance of malnutrition.

Now, the most important thing to avoid malnutrition is to follow and maintain a correct, balanced, varied and pleasant diet.

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