What is considered Malnourished?
Dt Sheetal chhabria
Vasanth nagar, Bengaluru Mar 13, 2018
It is a serious condition that occurs when a person’s diet doesn’t contain the right amount of nutrients. It can be under-nutrition or over-nutrition. Under-nutrition is when you do not get enough nutrients and over-nutrition is when you get more nutrition than you need. It is estimated by research that around three million people in the UK are affected by malnutrition.
Underweight births and inter-uterine restrictions are responsible for about 2.2 million child deaths annually in the world.
- Due to lack of food
- Having difficulty eating due to painful teeth or painful lesions of the mouth.
- Loss of appetite.
- An unhealthy diet with not enough nutrients, vitamins and minerals and are at risk of malnutrition.
- Those who abuse drugs or are chronic alcoholics.
- Those with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa have difficulty maintaining adequate nutrition.
- Premature babies are at a higher risk of malnutrition as are infants at the time of weaning.
Signs and symptoms of malnutrition (subnutrition) include:
- Loss of fat (adipose tissue)
- Breathing difficulties, a higher risk of respiratory failure
- Higher risk of complications after surgery
- Higher risk of hypothermia - abnormally low body temperature
- The total number of some types of white blood cells falls; consequently, the immune system is weakened, increasing the risk of infections.
- Higher susceptibility to feeling cold
- Longer healing times for wounds
- Longer recovery times from infections
- Longer recovery from illnesses
- Lower sex drive
- Problems with fertility
- Reduced muscle mass
- Reduced tissue mass
- Tiredness, fatigue, or apathy
In more severe cases:
- Skin may become thin, dry, inelastic, pale, and cold
- Eventually, as fat in the face is lost, the cheeks look hollow and the eyes sunken
- Hair becomes dry and sparse, falling out easily
- Sometimes, severe malnutrition may lead to unresponsiveness (stupor)
- If calorie deficiency continues for long enough, there may be heart, liver and respiratory failure
- Total starvation is said to be fatal within 8 to 12 weeks (no calorie consumption at all).
There are tools to identify whether the person is malnutrition or not. The tools are BAPEN (British Association for Parental and Enteral Nutrition’s) and MUST (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool).
MUST has been designed to identify adults, especially elderly people who are malnourished, obese and at the risk of undernutrition.