Q:

Why do malnourished children have bloated stomachs?

A:

Quick Answer

Abdominal distension, or bloated stomach, in malnourished infants is a common finding of kwashiorkor, a type of malnutrition that is caused by a diet poor in protein, according to MedlinePlus. Abdominal distension occurs because of weakened abdominal muscles, liver enlargement and intestinal distension, according to The Merck Manual.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Other important physical signs of kwashiorkor include a failure to thrive, bilateral pitting edema, hypothermia, hair discoloration, dermatitis and xeropthalmia, according to The Merck Manual. Kwashiorkor most commonly occurs in countries that experience famine, have a poor supply of food or poor nutrition education. It is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and is also common in Central America and Southeast Asia, according to the Medical Association of Malawi.

The treatment of kwashiorkor depends on the severity of the malnutrition. In cases of mild to moderate malnutrition, treatment can begin with a liquid-oral, lactose free diet. Solid food is typically not well tolerated in the beginning, and bacterial migration in the digestive tract causes infectious diarrhea and intolerance to food containing milk products, according to The Merck Manual.

Severe and prolonged malnutrition requires a hospitalized approach to treatment. This includes the correction of any electrolyte abnormalities, treatment of infections, as well as infection prophylaxis, micronutrient replacement, and, in worst-case scenarios, tube feeding, according to The Merck Manual.

Learn more about Conditions & Diseases

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is undernutrition?

    A:

    Undernutrition is a type of malnutrition characterized by a deficiency in calories or protein, according to Merck Manuals. Sufferers of undernutrition are often deficient in essential vitamins and minerals as well.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What are the symptoms of protein-energy malnutrition?

    A:

    Protein-energy malnutrition, sometime referred to as protein-energy undernutrition, generally manifests as marasmus, kwashiorkor or starvation, according to Merck Manuals. Marasmus is caused by an overall caloric- intake deficiency, and is characterized symptoms of fat and muscle tissue loss. Kwashiorkor is caused specifically by protein deficiency with symptoms of tissue swelling.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What causes a bloated and hard stomach?

    A:

    Some causes of a hard, bloated stomach include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, overeating, gastroesophageal reflux and lactose intolerance, according to MedlinePlus. More serious causes include tumors, ovarian cancer, celiac disease and pancreas issues.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes black diarrhea?

    A:

    Black diarrhea may be an indicator of internal bleeding in the upper intestinal tract in either the esophagus or stomach, according to MedlinePlus. Black stools can also be caused by taking iron pills or eating a large volume of certain foods such as blueberries or black licorice.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore