Dr Zeshan Ahmad, Dr Abdul Basit, Dr Amna Malik
Objective: To determine the frequency of electrolyte disturbances in malnourished children with and without diarrhea and whether these findings have therapeutic value or not. Methodology: This is a descriptive study conducted in Pediatric department of Ayub Teaching Hospital, Abbottabad for one year duration from March 2019 to March 2020. The study included one hundred caloric malnourished children from 6 months to 5 years old, regardless of sex, admitted for diarrhea, failure to thrive, acute respiratory infection, malaria, anemia, heart failure and feeding problems. Based on the history, physical examination and anthropometric measurement, they were divided into patients from group A (n = 64) who were malnourished but had diarrhea, and patients from group B (n = 36) who were also malnourished and had no diarrhea. Serum electrolytes were taken in patients from both groups and the results were statistically analyzed. Results: Analysis of serum electrolytes in both groups showed that hypokalaemia, hyponatraemia and low serum bicarbonate were more frequently observed in patients in group A than in group B. In group A, hypokalemia was observed in 40 patients (62.5%), while it was observed in 8 patients (22.22%) in group B (p <0.001), hyponatraemia was observed in 17 patients (26.56%) in group A and 5 patients (13.88%) in group B (p <0.001). In group A, 41 patients (64%) had low serum bicarbonate content, while in group B only 15 patients (41.66%) had low serum bicarbonate value (p <0.001) Conclusion: Electrolyte changes were commonly observed especially in patients with grade II and III malnutrition with variable duration of diarrhea attacks. If these changes are diagnosed early and treated appropriately, morbidity and mortality may decrease. Keywords: malnutrition, diarrhea, electrolyte changes.