Kwashiorkor is also called as protein malnutrition or edematous malnutrition. It is a form of malnutrition or nutritional disorder caused by a lack of protein in the diet and most often seen in regions experiencing famine. Kwashiorkor is characterized by edema, and an enlarged liver with fatty infiltrates. Oedema of kwashiorkor is evident in the soft tissues of the extremities, rather than as ascites. Kwashiorkor typically occurs in children around the time of weaning and up to 4 years of age, although it may present later, particularly when associated with tuberculosis or HIV.
Children with kwashiorkor are often extremely emaciated or thin but not always. Some of the symptoms a child with kwashiorkor may have included:
- loss of appetite
- changes in hair color, where it may look yellow or orange
- pitting edema or swelling, usually on the legs and feet, when a finger mark remains after the skin is pressed
- lack of muscle and fat tissues
- lethargy and irritability
- dermatosis, or skin lesions that are cracked and patchy
- frequent infections in the skin lesions
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