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How swell from hunger

Documentary photos of the period of 17-23 years of the last century, pictures from besieged Leningrad and modern photos from African countries are terrifying. Exhausted children and adults with a disproportionately large abdomen or general swelling. These are manifestations of nutritional dystrophy.

Why swelling occurs

Blood proteins retain water around them, prolonged starvation leads to a decrease in protein concentration in the blood, as a result, the fluid rushes into the intercellular space. The situation is aggravated by the fact that a person experiences a false feeling of thirst and drinks even more water. The body responds to a decrease in circulating blood volume in its own way: it reduces urinary excretion to reduce fluid loss. As a result, the person swells even more. The abdominal region is relatively free, because the main part of the fluid from the intercellular space sucks in the abdominal space. Ascites occurs (accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity).
Hungry edema is a bad sign, which means that the urinary system does not cope with the additional load. People who dry up from hunger are more likely to survive than those who have alimentary dystrophy develops like hungry edema.


In conditions of hunger, people replace normal food with any other: quinoa, nettle, tree buds, moss, clay, chips. It is not a normal food for humans and causes gas to accumulate. The enzymes involved in digestion are also of a protein nature, prolonged fasting reduces the amount of enzymes ─ food is not digested completely, rotting begins in the intestine, which contributes to gas formation. The muscular system also suffers: the muscles are exhausted, they become flabby and the muscular corset does not hold the internal organs ─ they “fall out” beyond the peritoneum. Food moves more slowly through the intestines, which contributes to its overflow.
Each of these factors may already cause an increase in abdominal volumes, in aggregate, they contribute to a significant increase in the abdomen.

Children's Pellagra

Kwashiorkor or pediatric pellagra is a form of nutritional dystrophy. May develop even with adequate nutrition. Often found in poor countries and families, where protein foods are replaced by inexpensive carbohydrates: cereals, pasta. The first cases of infant pellagra were described in African children who were weaned too early due to the pregnancy of the mother. The child does not receive the necessary amino acids, eats high-calorie carbohydrates (mainly products sent by peacekeeping missions), as a result of which growth and development are delayed. Ascites develops, the liver and spleen increase. With proper care and medical care, the child can be helped and he is recovering.
Some people with enough protein in their food may also have a decrease in albumin in their blood, and, as a result, general swelling and puffiness occur. This is suffering from glomerulonephritis, people with burn disease and with toxic liver damage, cirrhosis. If a part of the intestine is removed from the patient or there is chronic enteritis, protein absorption is impaired, as a result, protein dystrophy can occur, which can trigger puffiness.

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