Kwashiorkor VS Marasmus?

To work, your body needs energy, protein, and a variety of other nutrients. Your muscles can deteriorate, your bones can grow brittle, and your mind can get hazy if you don’t eat enough. The body requires a lot of protein. Your body becomes malnourished when you don’t eat enough nutrients. Protein-energy malnutrition is one kind of malnutrition. Kwashiorkor VS Marasmus: they are a types of protein-energy malnutrition.

What is Kwashiorkor?

Kwashiorkor is a life-threatening illness caused by a lack of protein in the diet. A severe protein shortage can cause fluid retention, making the stomach seem bloated. Kwashiorkor is most frequent in children, especially if they don’t get enough nourishment immediately after they cease nursing. If a youngster has kwashiorkor, they should seek medical help right once.

Causes of kwashiorkor:

Kwashiorkor is caused by a lack of protein and other important vitamins and minerals in the diet. It’s particularly frequent in poorer nations, where there’s a scarcity of food, inadequate sanitation, and a lack of awareness about the significance of feeding newborns and children a healthy diet.

Kwashiorkor VS Marasmus
Kid suffering Kwashiorkor

Symptoms of kwashiorkor:

While children with kwashiorkor frequently have low body fat, this is not always the case. Edema might conceal a child’s low body weight. The youngster may appear to be of normal weight or even chubby, but this is due to fluid accumulation rather than fat or muscle.

The following are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Decrease in appetite
  • Lack of muscle and fat tissues
  • Change in hair color
  • Pitting edema or swelling
  • Lethargy and irritation 
  • Dermatosis 
  • Recurrent skin infections or wounds that take a long time to heal


Although kwashiorkor is a malnutrition-related disorder, just feeding a kid or adult will not eliminate all of the deficits and symptoms. It might be tough for a youngster to take in meals if they have been living without enough protein and minerals for a long period. To avoid refeeding syndrome, it is critical to gently reintroduce food. Refeeding syndrome is a life-threatening electrolyte and fluid shift that occurs when malnourished people are rapidly refed. Lactose intolerance is common in children with kwashiorkor. As a result, people may need to avoid dairy products or take enzyme supplements to help their bodies cope with milk. Carbohydrates will be given first, followed by proteins, vitamins, and minerals, according to doctors treating the illness.

Food reintroduction might take a week or longer to complete properly. Additionally, if a child’s illness has progressed to the point where they are in stress, with low blood pressure and a fast heart rate, they may require blood pressure medicine.

Your doctor can better provide you with a better advice. We also offer free consultationBook your appointment today.

To complete the Kwashiorkor VS Marasmus comparison, let’s discuss Marasmus

What is Marasmus?

Marasmus is a kind of protein-energy malnutrition that can affect anybody, although it is more common in children. If you are severely deficient in nutrients such as calories, proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals, you may develop marasmus. It is more prevalent in poorer nations, such as Asia and Africa. People in these countries are more likely to have limited access to healthy food, making it harder to obtain enough nutrition. If neglected, marasmus can be caused by a variety of infectious disorders.

Kwashiorkor VS Marasmus
Marasmus patient

Symptoms of Marasmus:

In youngsters, severe protein and calorie deficit can lead to fat and muscle mass loss. The most prevalent sign of marasmus is malnutrition, which causes underweight. If marasmus is left untreated for a long period, the following symptoms may develop: 

  • Weight loss
  • Stunted growth
  • Dry skin and eyes
  • Brittle hair
  • Diarrhea
  • Lower immunity
  • Stomach infection and lactose intolerance
  • Respiratory infections
  • Rickets due to calcium and vitamin D deficiency
  • Anemia due to iron deficiency
  • Impaired brain function and intellectual disability
  • Low blood pressure or hypotension
  • Low body temperature or hypothermia
  • Slow heart rate or bradycardia

Both the body and the mind can suffer from a lack of food and nutrition. Children with severe marasmus have a fatigued and boring appearance. They lack energy and passion at all times. These youngsters are frequently moody, impatient, and disinterested in things.

Causes of Marasmus:

Marasmus is mostly caused by malnutrition, which results in nutritional shortage. Here are some marasmus risk factors:

  • Poor dietary habits

A nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet is critical for growth, particularly in youngsters. You are at risk of getting marasmus if you eat a poor diet that is deficient in critical nutrients. ‌

  • Shortages of food

Marasmus is more widespread in poor nations where there is a lot of poverty and food scarcity. Famines and natural calamities are common in these areas, resulting in food crises. Marasmus is more common among children and adults who live in such places. ‌

  • Inadequate nursing

Mother’s milk is high in nutrients that aid in the development of children. If women are malnourished, they will be unable to provide adequate milk to their children during nursing. This might put youngsters at risk of protein-energy malnutrition. ‌

  • Infections and illnesses 

Loss of appetite can be caused by infections and illnesses caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. Infected children and adults may have a reduced intake of important nutrients as a result of this. In rural locations, diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria can produce marasmus. It can also be caused by celiac disease and pancreatic issues, which cause inadequate nutrition absorption. ‌


If neglected, severe marasmus can lead to an infection, electrolyte imbalance, heart failure, or hypothermia, all of which can result in mortality. The following are the steps in treating marasmus clinically: ‌

  • Resuscitation

Rehydration is required for this stage. This can be accomplished by injecting a rehydrating fluid into your vein or giving it to you orally. Antibiotics and medications may be prescribed to treat underlying infections or illnesses.  Children who are cold because of hypothermia are usually breastfed in a warm environment.

  • Stabilization

This phase includes gradually increasing your nutritional intake. Your doctor will begin by giving you some watered-down milk or formula. You will also be given a rehydrating fluid by mouth or Intravenous that contains electrolytes, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. ‌

  • Rehabilitation and follow-up in the area of nutrition

This phase entails boosting your nutritional intake by eating a high-protein, high-energy meal. The nutrients aid in the proper healing and growth of your body. It also aids in the gradual restoration of your ideal weight and height.

When your symptoms have subsided and you have recovered, you must maintain a nutritious diet that is well-balanced and nutrient-dense. Even if you are not at danger of malnourishment, you should follow this advice. ‌

Kwashiorkor VS Marasmus

Let see difference in Kwashiorkor VS Marasmus

It is due to the deficiency of proteinsIt is due to the defficiency of proteins and calories
The person suffering from kwashiorkor needs an adequate amount of proteinsThe person suffering from marasmus needs an adequate amount of protein, carbs, and fats
Enlarged fatty liverNo fatty liver
Edema is presentEdema is absent
Ribs are not very prominentRibs are very prominent
Patient is lethargicThe patient is alert and irritable
Subcutaneous fat is preservedSubcutaneous fat is not preserved
Muscle wasting is mild or absentMuscle wasting is severe
Poor appetiteVoracious feeder


Hence kwashiorkor and marasmus are a types of protein-energy malnutrition. Marasmus also includes the deficiency of calories. Proper nutrition is important to overcome these conditions and prevent their severity.

I lead a team of professional nutritionists and dietitians. We provide our consulting services in different areas of nutrition.

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