Marasmus is a condition caused by a lack of adequate nutrition and calorie intake for the continuity of body functions. Marasmus can have a negative impact on growth and development and even lead to death. Symptoms include dry skin, dizziness, brittle hair, chronic diarrhea, and a decreased level of intelligence.
The problem of difficulty in obtaining adequate nutritious food is often experienced by people in developing countries. This problem not only causes hunger, but can also cause marasmus conditions.
The condition of marasmus occurs when a person does not get adequate daily nutritional intake, therefore marasmus does not only occur in people who lack food, but also in people with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders.
Getting to know marasmus
The condition of marasmus can occur when a person lacks protein, nutrients, or calories needed for the continuity of the body’s performance. When a person suffers from marasmus, the body will find it difficult to develop new cells or fight disease.
Gradually, the function of vital organs in the body will stop and can lead to death. Generally, marasmus haunts children who are in food shortage areas.
The main characteristic of people with marasmus is having a body weight below the ideal. This is because people with marasmus have lost a lot of muscle mass and fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat).
Over time, people with marasmus will lose fat and body tissue in the face and body that makes the bones under the skin visible. Loss of body fat also raises wavy and makes the sufferer’s eyes look sunken.
Children who suffer from marasmus will appear to be low on energy, appear older than their age, and easily irritated and angry. Here are some other symptoms of marasmus:
- Dry skin
- Brittle hair
- Respiratory infections
- Chronic diarrhea
- stunted growth
- Intellectual disability
What triggers marasmus?
Usually, deficiency of iodine, vitamin A, iron, and zinc is the cause of the appearance of the condition marasmus.
However, marasmus is not only due to a lack of nutrition or food consumption and eating disorders, because marasmus can also occur when you do not eat foods with balanced nutrition, for example eating more carbohydrates and less protein.
In addition, certain medical conditions can also make you suffer from marasmus, for example having problems in the absorption or digestion of certain nutrients. However, medical conditions and a deficiency in one particular nutrient are not the main causes of marasmus.
New marasmus will occur if you lack certain nutrients and eat foods with a number of calories below your daily calories.
Babies are prone to marasmus if they only get breast milk for six months, because the little one also needs other solid foods. Babies born prematurely or have a low birth weight are also at risk of developing marasmus.
How to deal with marasmus?
Marasmus that is not treated immediately has the potential not only to cause weight loss, but can also lead to various dangerous complications, such as stunted growth, hypotension, and contracting various infections.
When someone has marasmus, the first step to take is to give skim milk powder mixed with hot water. After that, skim milk will be added with vegetable oil, casein, and sugar.
When the patient’s condition has stabilized, the patient will be given a specific diet that plays a role in meeting the nutritional content and daily calories. In fact, people who experience marasmus will be given more calories than usual gradually.
Sometimes, food will be given slowly in small portions that are given many times in one day. Doctors can also provide nutrition and calories through a tube inserted into a vein or stomach. Patients with marasmus should not be given a lot of intake at the beginning, because it will harm their body’s metabolism, which is not used to receiving large amounts.
People with marasmus can take several months to recover. During treatment, the patient will be given plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and asked to take antibiotics that can treat infections caused by marasmus.
If marasmus is caused by certain eating disorders, the sufferer will also be given psychological treatment, such as counseling.
Marasmus arises due to lack of daily intake of nutrients and calories. This condition should not be underestimated because it can have an impact on health and can even lead to death.
If you or someone around you experiences symptoms of marasmus, immediately consult a doctor for proper examination and treatment.