In the post apocalypse world the most important things are the things that we take the most for granted today, food and water. With the collapse of agriculture and the distribution networks that deliver those supplies many of the survivors will quickly face starvation and malnutrition. Most of the human population lives in urban centers and depend on a few small stores or bulk foods stores for food. The majority of those in urban areas have no clue in regards to even basic gardening or other means of gathering food such as hunting or fishing.
Even without a collapse of civilization more then one billion people around the world are currently starving (Approximately one person in every six) and that’s with an operating though grossly inefficient agriculture and distribution network.
The first signs of starvation is the loss of fat and muscle mass, which you’re body, will begin to break down for energy it needs to maintain vital body functions such as the nervous system and heart. The average male for example burns approximately 2500 calories a day (Depending on physical health and activity level) In a post apocalyptic world it’s easy to imagine the survivors burning well above that due to lack of transportation and having to rely on physical labour rather then using machines to do the heavy work. This process of the body breaking down body mass for energy is called Catabolises. On top of that this condition can also start to cause diarrhea, skin rashes, edema, and even heart failure. Starving individuals will also become irritable and lethargic from a lack of energy.
Atrophy is the next sign of starvation. This is where the starving individual starts to loose the perception of feeling hungry or thirsty because their senses are much weaker and the brain is not as able to function properly. At this stage all body movements become painful as the remaining muscles become extremely weak. The individual’s immune system will start to break down meaning that diseases that the body could normally fight off will start to appear. Fungi and other bacteria can also form on the individual’s body such as under the oesophagus making swallowing extremely painful. In women you can also expect irregular menstruation cycles.
Without food this condition can last for weeks before the individual dies. In the case of those in prisoner or war camps and concentration camps in World War 2 this can take years if given good that is low in nutritional value.