Malnutrition is defined as “the cellular mismatch between the supply of nutrients and energy and the body’s need for them to guarantee development, maintenance, and particular activities,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) refers to a set of diseases that include marasmus, kwashiorkor (as seen in the pictures below), and marasmus-kwashiorkor transitional stages. Kwashiorkor causes nutritional edema and metabolic abnormalities, such as hypoalbuminemia and hepatic steatosis, in children, whereas marasmus causes severe wasting. While genuine protein shortage is rare in the Western world, some people consume insufficient quantities. Too little protein in the diet can lead to long-term changes in body composition, such as muscle atrophy. Kwashiorkor is the most severe form of protein malnutrition.
PEM is diagnosed depending on several variables. While blood albumin levels were formerly believed to be a good indicator of nutritional health, current recommendations show that this metric fails to account for the complexities of hepatic protein synthesis. The acute-phase response, hydration status, illness state, clinical condition, albumin leakage from intra- to extra-vascular spaces, and severe zinc shortage are all possible causes of altered serum albumin and prealbumin levels.
PEM treatment differs depending on the degree and cause of the issue. Patients with eating problems will require a proper nutritional intervention in addition to mental health treatment. Malnutrition caused by social or environmental factors and food insecurity may necessitate a case-management consultation to assist the patient in connecting with resources. To establish an effective nutrition care plan for hospitalized patients, a team approach involving the doctor, nurse, nutritionist, and other professionals is advised. Oral nutrition supplements and, in rare circumstances, parenteral or enteral nutrition may assist malnourished patients in improving their nutritional status.
Refeeding syndrome is when hypophosphatemia, hypokalemia, and hypomagnesemia cause abnormalities in the cardiovascular, respiratory, hematologic, skeletal, and endocrine systems. The World Health Organization has created recommendations to aid in preventing these problems and the return to normalcy. Stabilization, rehabilitation, and follow-up are the three phases of treatment. The first phase lasts for seven days. Treatment and prevention of hypoglycemia, hypothermia, dehydration, and infection; electrolyte balance and micronutrient deficits; and a careful feeding regimen are all part of it.
Because some patients relapse, it’s essential to keep track of them. To avoid the recurrence of malnutrition, nutritional supplements should be given to people of all ages suffering from PEM. Furthermore, in the pediatric population, education on the benefits of breastfeeding and cleanliness has been proven to be beneficial treatments. Low protein consumption affects more than just muscles. Your bones are also in jeopardy. Protein deficiency can weaken your bones and raise your risk of fractures. According to one study, higher protein consumption was linked to a decreased incidence of hip fractures in postmenopausal women. Animal-source protein offered the most significant advantages, with the highest intake related to a 69 percent lower risk. Hope this article cleared all your doubts about the treatment of protein deficiency malnutrition.