The term malnutrition refers to a pathological state caused by the lack of intake or absorption of nutrients. According to the severity of the condition, this disease can be divided into first, second and even third degree.
Sometimes, the disorder can be mild and present, without symptoms, due to an inadequate or poorly balanced diet. However, there are other more serious cases, in which the consequences can become irreversible (although the person is still alive), caused by digestive disorders and absorption problems.
Fatigue, dizziness, fainting, the absence of menstruation, poor growth in children, weight loss and a decrease in the body ‘s immune response are some of the symptoms that can alert us to a possible picture of malnutrition. See Abbreviation Finder for acronyms related to Malnutrition.
This nutrition-related condition can usually be corrected by replenishing missing nutrients and, if caused by a specific problem in the body, by appropriate treatment to counteract the nutritional deficiency. If it is not detected in time or the necessary medical attention is not received, malnutrition can cause disability, both mental and physical, illnesses and can even be fatal.
Malnutrition is, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the leading cause of death for infants and young children in developing countries. For this reason, preventing this disease has become a priority for the World Health Organization (WHO). We must do what we can to help the millions of children who are born into poverty.
In more precise terms, it is possible to classify malnutrition into various types, taking into account different criteria. If we focus on the particular deficiencies of the affected individuals, then we can distinguish the following types:
* caloric malnutrition: this concept is also known by the name of marasmus and occurs in those who eat food in insufficient quantities. This behavior, which is often the result of a lack of economic resources, negatively affects the growth of children, with characteristics such as excessive thinness or a lack of fatty tissue. Symptoms that are more difficult to identify or relate to this problem may also appear, such as poor performance in student or work activities, in addition to abnormal tiredness;
* protein malnutrition: occurs in individuals who base their diet on an unbalanced combination, in which carbohydrates tend to predominate to the detriment of proteins. As a direct consequence, there is a lower resistance to infections, skin disorders, abdominal distension and liver diseases.
Another criterion that can be used to classify malnutrition is based on the relationship between the person’s height and weight, so that we obtain the following types:
* mild acute malnutrition: although the weight responds to expectations, given the patient’s age, his height does not reach the expected value;
* moderate acute malnutrition: in this case, the weight is lower than normal for the patient’s height;
* severe acute malnutrition: not only is weight less than 30 percent of what is expected for height, but some body functions are seriously compromised. It is a very serious problem, with a high risk of death;
* lack of vitamins and minerals: the severity of this type of malnutrition is so high that the individual no longer has the necessary strength to carry out his daily activities because he feels a fatigue that dominates him. In addition, his defense deficit opens the door to a large number of infections and he cannot focus on basic learning processes.