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Marasmus: what is it, symptoms and treatment (and the difference from kwashiorkor)

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The marasmus is one of the types of protein-energy malnutrition characterized by a great loss of weight and loss of muscle and generalized fat, which can negatively influence growth.

This type of malnutrition is characterized by a primary deficiency of carbohydrates and fats, which forces the body to consume proteins to generate energy, which leads to weight and muscle loss, identifying a general malnutrition pattern.

Protein-energy malnutrition is common among children between 6 and 24 months of age who live in countries on development paths where there is a shortage of food. In addition to the socio-economic factor, the marasmus can be influenced by premature desease, inadequate food intake and precarious health conditions.



Signs and symptoms of marasmus

Children with marasmus present signs and symptoms characteristic of this type of malnutrition, such as the following:

  • Absence of subcutaneous grease;
  • Generalized muscle loss, allowing the visualization of bones, for example;
  • Chair narrows in relation to the chest;
  • Alteration of growth;
  • Muy peso per debajo del recommended for the age;
  • weakness;
  • tiredness;
  • tides;
  • constant hambre;
  • Diarrhea and vomiting;
  • Increase in the concentration of cortisol, which causes the child to be in a bad mood.

The diagnosis of marasmus is carried out through the evaluation of clinical signs and symptoms; In addition, you can request laboratory and other tests that allow you to confirm the diagnosis, such as BMI, measurement of the perimeter of the head and the arm and verification of the skin folds.

What is the difference between marasmus and kwashiorkor?

Like marasmus, kwashiorkor is a type of protein-energy malnutrition, however, it is characterized by extreme protein deficiency that leads to symptoms such as edema, dry skin, hair loss, growth retardation, abdominal distension and hepatomegaly, es decir, liver enlargement.

How is the treatment performed?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the treatment of malnutrition, including marasmus, is carried out in stages, with the aim of gradually increasing the amount of calories ingested to avoid intestinal changes, including the following:



  1. stabilization, where foods are gradually introduced with the aim of reversing metabolic alterations;
  2. rehabilitation, in this stage, the child is more stable and, therefore, the feeding is intensified so that there is weight recovery and growth stimulation;
  3. follow-up, in which a periodic follow-up is carried out with the aim of preventing relapses and guaranteeing the continuity of the treatment.

Likewise, it is important to guide the family member or the person responsible for the child on how to carry out the treatment and how to be the diet of the child, in addition to indicating the signs of a possible relapse, for example.

Learn more about malnutrition and how treatment is carried out.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

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Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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