Marasmus is caused by total calorie malnutrition, meaning that there is a severe deficiency in nearly all nutrients, including protein and carbohydrates.
In these patients, emaciation and tissue wasting occurs to the point that body weight is reduced to less than 60% of the normal, expected body weight.
Patients with marasmus show extensive tissue and muscle wasting. There is notable loss or muscle mass, and skin becomes dry, loose, and hanging.
Notably, there is drastic loss of body fat (adipose tissue). Areas of normal fatty deposits, such as the buttocks and thighs, show extensive loss of subcutaneous fat.
Marasmus is different from kwashiorkor, in that marasmus is total nutrition deficiency, instead of solely protein. There is still protein wasting with this disorder, however, and may lead to edema in patients, which may present in multiple variations.
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