Major Causes of Malnutrition
In this section, we'll jot down for you what the most probable causes of malnutrition are. They will help to understand this health condition better and thus help with its diagnosis and treatment.
- Lack of Nutrients: The first and most prominent cause of malnutrition, mainly among children, is the shortfall or complete absence of one or more nutrients in the diet of the person. When the body does not get these essential nutrients, it cannot sustain itself and begins to get impoverished.
- Improper Digestion and Absorption: Sometimes, it may so happen that the person consumes the required nutrients within his diet, but due to certain other underlying causes, these nutrients do not get digested by the body, and hence they don't get absorbed by it. Due to this, the body does not benefit from the nutrients and hence is malnourished.
- Other Factors: Often times, the social and economic conditions prevailing in a particular area play a role in the kind of food and nutrition that the people in the area receive. Ignorance or unavailability of sufficient nutritive food can lead to malnutrition.
The treatment of malnutrition can be divided in three phases. These three phases need to be followed in their proper order, to get even minimal success in helping the undernourished person cope with the condition. These phases have been explained below.
Assessment: When suspected of malnutrition, the first step towards its treatment is the appropriate diagnosis of the condition. The patient's condition needs to be studied carefully and thoroughly, to assess what is the dietary consumption of the person, what are the nutrients present in the diet, and what are the missing nutrients. Once this assessment is made, one can progress to the next phase of the treatment.
Dietary Adjustments: The first phase involves the in-depth study and categorization of the nutrients that are present and the ones that are absent. In the second phase, the patient's body must be introduced to all the absent nutrients, in a very carefully monitored manner. A sudden influx of nutrients that were hitherto unknown to the body can take a while to get assimilated and the body may take some time to adjust itself to the new dietary pattern. In addition to the food intake, the person may also be advised to consume vitamin and mineral supplements to help their level remain high in the body. Also, any problems with the metabolism of the person are treated by the introduction of the appropriate measures. This is the longest phase of the treatment and can have different results for different people.
Follow-Up: The second phase can take quite a long time to become a success for the person. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the social and economic conditions play a role in the kind of food that the person intakes, there are chances of relapse, if the person is not monitored well. Hence, it is the responsibility of the person treating the patient to conduct regular follow-ups to see that the second phase of the treatment is maintained well.
Malnutrition, though predominantly assumed to be a condition only in poverty stricken regions, is very much a phenomenon even in regions which aren't. Social and psychological conditions, along with the person's individual constitution are what influence the nutrition of the person. So, if you think any person you know may be malnourished due to whatever reason, ask them to get themselves checked and treated before it's too late.