Alimentary dystrophy


What is alimentary dystrophy?
Alimentary dystrophy is the complex of symptoms developing as a result of insufficient (inadequate) food intake for the given organism. The main sign of alimentary dystrophy is body mass deficit (by 20% less than the normal body mass).

Who suffers from alimentary dystrophy and what is its prevalence? This disease is most prevalent in socially depleted and low-income groups of population (e.g., children and adolescents from poor families etc.) A special risk group comprises subjects who need to maintain the minimal body mass because of their occupation, e.g., dancers, models, gymnasts, etc.).

What are the causes of alimentary dystrophy?
Alimentary dystrophy develops because of compelled or voluntary starvation.

  • The causes of the compelled starvation include bad sutures after abdominal surgery and swallowing problems in some diseases.
  • The voluntary starvation is typical of anorexia nervosa patients and ballet dancers and models.


  • What are the specific features of feeding behavior of patients with alimentary dystrophy?
    These features include:
    - the rate of food intake is 2-3 times per 24 h;
    - food amount consumed per intake is 100-150 g;
    - the predominating nutrients are carbohydrates (chocolate, candies, ice-cream, etc.); and
    - important products, such as meat, butter, and other dairy products, are excluded from diet.

    What are the clinical manifestations of alimentary dystrophy?
    The manifestations include:
  • body mass deficit exceeding 30% of normal body mass;
  • body mass index below 17 kg/m2 (see "Useful Information" page);
  • weakness;
  • chilliness;
  • skeletal musculature atrophy;>
  • reduced muscular tonus;
  • - signs of hypovitaminosis including dry skin and reddened skin on hands and feet (like gloves and socks);
    - thin, streaked, and fragile nails;
    - loosened and brittle hair;
    - crimson and smooth, as if polished, tongue having leveled-off papillae and teeth imprints seen on its lateral surfaces;
    - cardiovascular changes including bradycardia, which turns into tachycardia upon slightest physical activity, and hypotonia; and
    - urogenital changes including pollakiuria etc.

    Is it possible to restore body mass when it is below 14-15 kg/m2?
    It is possible. However, it should be minded that a patients cannot do it by himself. He requires doctor's help to devise a special diet providing for the needed weight gain without overloading the patient's digestive system. Besides that, the doctor will correct the feeding behavior of the patient and prescribe drug treatment and, if necessary, parenteral feeding. Only complex treatment devised by specialist on the individual basis (with account to the specific features of the development of alimentary dystrophy and of diseases resulting from it in the given patient) will produce adequate results. Remember that attempts of self-medication will only delay the appropriate treatment and thus aggravate patient's condition.

    What examinations should doctor suggest when alimentary dystrophy is suspected?
    Because body mass deficit is possible in many different diseases, including cancer, the basis for diagnosis must be comprehensive examination and carefully analyzed case history (a talk to the patient to learn about the background of the disease).

    What have to be done if the diagnosis of alimentary dystrophy is confirmed?
    It is expedient to be treated, the sooner the better, by physicians specialized in this sort problems. Not each and every therapeutist and even gastroenterologist can make the right diagnosis of alimentary dystrophy and manage it. Physicians are often distracted by concomitant diseases and mix up causes and consequences. LENMEDCENTER Head, Dr. LAPTEVA, has been gaining her enormous experience in treating alimentary dystrophy for more than two decades. Hundreds of patients have been cured and returned to normal life due to her efforts. If you or those whom you care for experience problems, seek our help. At LENMEDCENTER, experienced professionals will devise the most appropriate treatment program for every individual.

    What are the prospects for a patient who refuses treatment?
    Practice proves that after the diagnosis of alimentary dystrophy has been established, the life of an untreated patient lasts for not more than 5 years. This disease results in metabolic disorders. Patients complain about disturbances in different organs. The disease takes chronic course. Untreated patients die, most often of cardiovascular failure or concomitant infection. When the diagnosis of alimentary dystrophy is established, treatment must be started immediately!