Overview

starvation


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The condition that occurs with prolonged deprivation of food, i.e., essential nutriment. This occurs under several circumstances, including warfare when food production, distribution, and supply are disrupted; severe prolonged drought or other natural disaster that prevents production or ripening of food crops, often compounded by inadequate distribution systems; or enforced restriction of food intake, as in concentration camps. It occurs to individuals as a consequence of some diseases, including severe intestinal parasitic infections, certain cancers, sprue, etc. Survival in extreme starvation is possible for as long as several weeks, depending on prior nutritional status and physical fitness. Often there are differential rates at which deprivation of essential nutriment causes clinical symptoms and signs. Kwashiorkor is primarily due to protein deficiency; marasmus is generalized calorie deficiency. Vitamin deficiency may occur first, e.g., thiamine deficiency causing beriberi. See also famine, malnutrition, and marasmus.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.


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