Scurvy is a condition that is caused in a person who is having insufficient amount of vitamin C for a prolonged period of time. The condition causes weakness, impaired wound healing, anemia, and gingivitis.
In children, it can cause bone loss and fractures. Scurvy is rare disease and it occurs most commonly in malnourished older adults and chronic alcoholics.
Causes of Scurvy
A diet that lacks in fruits and vegetables or foods fortified with vitamin C is typically the main cause of scurvy.
Risk factors associated with scurvy
Some of the following factors increase your chance of having scurvy:
- A limited or poor diet, with little or no fruits and vegetables
- Little or no vitamin C in the diet
- Anorexia nervosa
- Poor dental hygiene
- Gastrointestinal disorders like malabsorption, inflammatory bowel disease, dyspepsia, and Whipple disease
- A fad diet
- Self-taken restrictive diets for weight loss or due to food allergies
Diagnosis of scurvy
Scurvy may be found during a physical exam, depending upon the analysis of symptoms and diet. A doctor will order a blood test to measure the level of vitamin C in the blood to confirm the diagnosis. Infants and children may have x-rays done to look for specific problems from scurvy, such as bone disease.
Symptoms of scurvy
Symptoms of scurvy include:
- Sunken eyes
- Tender, swollen gums or tooth loss
- Muscular pain
- Reopening of old wounds or sores
- Loss of appetite
- Bruising easily
- Weight loss inability to gain weight
- Increased heart rate
- Aching and swelling in joints
- Shortness of breath
Treatment for scurvy
The treatment for scurvy is simple and effective. To eliminate symptoms and make a full recovery, begin vitamin C replacement until symptoms resolve and then take recommended amounts of vitamin C. Vitamin C levels can be increased by:
- Eating a diet rich in citrus fruits, other fruits, and vegetables
- Taking vitamin C supplements