What Are The Causes Of Kwashiorkor: Treatment and symptoms

What are The Causes of Kwashiorkor?
What are The Causes of Kwashiorkor

Kwashiorkor is a nutritional disorder that is caused when a child’s diet does not contain enough protein. This condition can also be known as “edematous malnutrition” or “protein malnutrition.” People with Kwashiorkor often look very thin, have changes in the color of their skin, lose muscle mass, and have other symptoms.

About 200,000 cases of Kwashiorkor have been recorded in Nigeria, a country where the disease is common and affects a lot of children under the age of five.

Kwashiorkor is more prevalent in some underdeveloped countries as well as regions that suffer from a scarcity of food resources. In most cases, children are more likely than adults to be diagnosed with kwashiorkor.

This post examines the causes of kwashiorkor, as well as its symptoms, potential treatments, and other related topics.

What are The Causes of Kwashiorkor?

What are The Causes of Kwashiorkor?

Kwashiorkor is brought on by diets that are deficient in protein. The illness typically appears after a kid has been weaned and switched from breast milk to a diet low in protein.

It is most common in children who live in regions that are experiencing famine and are between the ages of weaning and around 5 years old. On the other hand, it is also possible to get the disease later in life, particularly if HIV or tuberculosis are involved.

Kwashiorkor is more likely to strike youngsters whose diet consists primarily of the following:

  • rice
  • maize
  • yams
  • cassava
  • sweet potatoes

The following are some additional factors that can lead to kwashiorkor:

  • eating an improper balance of nutrients
  • having a particular medical issue that prevents adequate vitamin absorption or processing results in an unhealthy nutritional imbalance.
  • insufficient knowledge on food and drink
  • Kwashiorkor could also be an early sign of HIV.

Symptoms of Kwashiorkor

Edema, also known as excess water retention in the body’s tissues, is a common symptom of kwashiorkor, and it causes children to appear dangerously underweight and to develop significant weakness. The following are some other symptoms of kwashiorkor that are common:

  • inflamed darkened patches of skin peels or flakes
  • brittle and fragile fingernails
  • an expanded stomach, sometimes known as a “pot belly”
  • an oval face
    a decrease in overall muscle mass
  • dry, brittle hair that is prone to breakage and can be easily plucked off.
  • restricted growth
  • having illnesses that return frequently or last for an extended period of time

If Kwashiorkor is left untreated over an extended period of time, it can lead to serious health complications, such as irreversible physical and mental impairments, decreasing body temperature, and enlargement of the liver. The answer to the question of whether or not kwashiorkor can result in the death of a patient is “yes.” If the body goes without protein for an extended period of time, the condition will eventually become devastating.

How is Kwashiorkor Treated?

The easiest strategy to treat kwashiorkor is to eat more protein and lots of calories. Keep in mind that protein insufficiency is the primary cause of this disorder.
Nevertheless, the method of treatment to be used depends on how bad the disease is; for example, if it has progressed to shock, the patient in question needs to receive treatment very quickly in order to restore blood volume and maintain blood pressure.
Typically, the first step in treating kwashiorkor is to boost the patient’s energy, which is frequently accomplished by giving the patient some calories in the form of carbs, sweets, and fats. The patient will subsequently be given foods that include a significant amount of protein after acquiring some energy. The doctor can also advise taking long-term vitamin and mineral supplements for faster and better results.

However, it is advisable to gradually increase calorie intake because the body has been malnourished for a long time and may need time to react to the abrupt increase.

Can kwashiorkor occur in adults?

Kwashiorkor is often more common in children than in adults.

Kwashiorkor, however, can also affect adults, though their symptoms differ slightly from those of children.

How common is kwashiorkor?

In the Nigeria, kwasiorkor is a common illness. It most frequently happens in rural and farming communities, as well as places with scarce food resources.

The kwashiorkor-affected areas are as follows:

  • Central America
  • Congo
  • Nigeria
  • Jamaica
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Africa
  • Southeast Asia
  • Uganda

Can Kwashiorkor be Prevented?

By eating foods high in protein, such as the following, you may be able to prevent kwashiorkor:

  • Eating meat
  • Eating fish
  • Eating dairy products
  • Eating eggs
  • Eating nuts and seeds
  • Eating legumes such as lentils and beans

The best way to guarantee that pregnant parents get the nutrients they need and that kids can continue to get adequate protein after they stop breastfeeding is through education.

For additional information on how to prevent kwashiorkor, speak with your doctor.

Kwashiorkor vs. marasmus

Marasmus and kwashiorkor are both examples of malnutrition.

Both conditions may seem identical at first. While edema is a characteristic of kwashiorkor, marasmus results in loss of muscle and fat without swelling.


Kwashiorkor is a form of malnutrition that is often brought on by a diet that does not contain sufficient amounts of protein. Although it is uncommon in the United States, it is most common in places that are predominantly rural or farming and have a scarcity of food resources.

Children between the ages of weaning and about 5 years old have an increased risk of developing kwashiorkor. Loss of muscle mass, a bloated stomach, stunted growth, and issues with the hair and skin are all potential side effects of this condition.

The primary goals of treatment are to restore lost vitamins and nutrients, treat dehydration, treat hypothermia, and rectify electrolyte imbalances. Because kwashiorkor might make a person more susceptible to infection, it is possible that treating infections will also be required.

If you are concerned about kwashiorkor, you should make an appointment with your primary care doctor as soon as possible. Treatment as soon as possible is absolutely necessary in order to lessen the likelihood of developing long-term complications.