Malnutrition could lead to ‘diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia’

Covid: ‘Three times’ more deaths than flu and pneumonia

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Mr Lindley-Pilley first highlighted how the lack of food was not a UK-only problem.

He said: “We are living in a time when 828million people are going to bed hungry every night, whilst some countries are on the brink of famine. Increased conflict, climate change and the global economic crisis are compounding the cycle of hunger and adding to gender inequalities and poverty.

“Having less money to buy food is what many people are facing during this global cost of living crisis, however the effects of hunger may not be as widely looked at.”

With regard to the physiological impact of hunger on the body he added: “First of all, malnutrition increases the risk of infections because all of the energy that the body would have used for maintenance of the immune system is now being used to save vital organs; these infections are commonly diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a condition where the tissue swells (becomes inflamed in one or both lungs); it is normally caused by a bacterial infection or a virus.

Symptoms of pneumonia include:
• A cough
• Difficulty breathing
• Rapid heartbeat
• High temperature
• Feeling generally unwell
• Sweating and shivering
• Loss of appetite
• Chest pain.

The NHS says those with pneumonia should contact the 111 online service or their GP if they have symptoms.

Pneumonia is more likely to occur in colder temperatures, combined with a lack of food, this could mean a perfect storm for some this winter.

However, it isn’t the only problem which can arise because of hunger.

Lindley-Pilley continued: “Malnutrition also affects the mental health of children and their families, reduces chances to do well later in life and ultimately leads to a higher risk of deaths. For example, half of the children under five who die every year would still be alive if they had been well-nourished.

“Immediate food assistance through products like ready-to-use-therapeutic food – which get nutrients and energy into the body quickly – are only one part of a much broader solution which is yet to be realised by all governments.”

Furthermore, he added: “We need to invest in preventive and anticipatory action with communities, including strengthening health, water and food systems, developing community climate change resilience, and education around malnutrition.

“All of this can save lives now and safeguard them well into the future.”

As a result, hunger doesn’t just cause problems for someone’s body, but their mind too.

Mr Lindley-Pilley said malnutrition can also cause diarrhoea. On this the NHS has some guidance.

It recommends staying at home, drinking lots of fluids, and taking paracetamol if in discomfort.

Since diarrhoea can spread easily, it recommends that individuals: “Stay off school or work until you’ve not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least two days.”

What the are the symptoms of malnutrition?

The main symptoms of malnutrition are:
• Unintentional weight loss
• A low body weight
• A lack of interest in eating and drinking
• Feeling tired all the time
• Feeling weak
• Getting ill often and taking a long time to recover.

The NHS add that signs in children include those “not growing or not putting on weight at the expected weight”.

While malnutrition may impact more people in the UK this winter, it is not an uncommon problem.

However, without major changes, it is a problem which will become worse as the cost of living rises.

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