Causes of malnutrition
Malnutrition is caused by a person not receiving enough nutrients, which stops the body functioning as it should.
In developing countries, this is often the result of lack of food. In Ireland malnutrition can be caused by several different circumstances and conditions. These are listed below.
Physical factors can contribute to malnutrition. For example:
If your teeth are in a poor condition, eating can be difficult or painful.You may find swallowing food difficult or painful. The medical term for this is dysphagia and it can have a range of causes such as a blockage in your throat, damage to the nerves used in swallowing or sores in your mouth.You may lose your appetite as a result of losing your sense of smell and taste. This can sometimes occur after a severe head injury or brain tumour .You may have a physical disability or other impairment that makes it difficult for you to cook for yourself.
Social factors that can contribute to malnutrition include:
a low incomelimited knowledge about nutritionlimited knowledge about cooking – older men who become widowed may have trouble adapting to cooking healthy meals for themselves, as might younger students leaving home for the first timeliving alone and being socially isolatedhaving reduced mobility and lack of transportabusing drugsabusing alcohol
Medical conditions that can contribute to malnutrition include:
having an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, which means that the amount of food you eat is very small having a health condition that causes a lack of appetite, such as cancer, liver disease, active infection, persistent pain or nausea having a mental health condition such as depression or schizophrenia which, if severe, may affect your ability to look after yourself having a health condition that disrupts your body’s ability to digest food or absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis having dementia – people with dementia may be unable to communicate their needs when it comes to eating persistent diarrhoea persistent vomiting taking many different types of medication at the same time – there are more than 250 types of medicine known to disrupt the body’s ability to absorb and then break down nutrient syour body has an increased demand for energy, for example if it is trying to heal itself after a serious injury such as aburn
In Ireland, the most common causes of malnutrition in children are long-term health conditions that either:
cause lack of appetite disrupt the normal process of digestion cause the body to have an increased demand for energy
Examples of these types of conditions include:
childhood cancers, such as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is a cancer of the white blood cells congenital heart disease, which is when a child is born with one or more defects affecting their heart,kidney failure, which is where the kidneys lose most or all of their function scystic fibrosis, which causes a build-up of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs and digestive system and prevents digestive enzymes being released from the pancreas
Malnutrition due to inadequate food intake in this country is rare, although it may occur if children are being neglected or abused.
If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of neglect or abuse you should inform your HSE
Depressed Depression is when you have feelings of extreme sadness, despair or inadequacy that last for a long time. Diarrhoea is the passing of frequent watery stools when you go to the toilet. Stomach The sac-like organ of the digestive system. It helps digest food by churning it and mixing it with acids to break it down into smaller pieces. Vomiting is when you bring up the contents of your stomach through your mouth.
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