What is Scurvy

Scurvy is a disease which is caused due to the lack of vitamin –C which is also known as ascorbic acid. Scurvy is also known as Scorbutus. It usually occurs in malnourished older adults and chronic alcoholics. Vitamin C is very essential for the development of connective tissues, lipid tissues and vitamin metabolism. It is also necessary for strong blood vessels, healthy gums and wound healing. It is found in citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, grapefruit and green leafy vegetables like spinach. It is very rare in the countries where fresh vegetables are easily available. The signs of scurvy include tiredness, weakness, bleeding of gums, loosening of teeth, swollen gums and pain in joints and muscles. It can also result in damage to the bones and pain like arthritis. This disease develops only when deficiency of the vitamin C is for prolonged time. The main symptom of scurvy is bleeding. Bleeding under skin appears as bruises.

If left untreated, scurvy can be fatal but it is very easy to address scurvy. Scurvy comes in picture after a long time. The person usually feels tired, annoyed and depressed. In addition to the lack of vitamin c, scurvy can be caused due to some physiological stress. It can be due to restrictive diet, anorexia or difficulty orally ingesting foods. Earlier, this disease was very common with sailors as they used to remain deprived of fresh fruits and fresh vegetables for a long period of time. Infants can also develop scurvy if they are on poor diet. It can be due to certain social or economical conditions too.

If a baby is on breast feed and his mother is suffering from scurvy, then the baby can also get it. Scurvy can be diagnosed by testing the levels of serum ascorbic acid levels. Treatment of scurvy includes providing vitamin c to the patient. It can be given orally or it can also be injected. The patient should take orange juice in order to reduce the risk of developing this disease. It can be prevented easily just by consuming citrus fruits like orange, lemon, kiwi, guava etc. Green vegetables can also serve the purpose like spinach. Potatoes, carrot, strawberries, tomatoes, papaya can also be given to the patient to recover the deficiency of vitamin c. Avoid alcohol as much as you can. Infants should be given a supplement if they are weaned from breast milk to the cow’s milk. Do consult with the doctor if the symptoms have already started and get right medication on the right time.

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