(Vitamin C Deficiency; Scorbutus)
Scurvy is a condition caused by an insufficient amount of vitamin C for a prolonged period of time. The condition causes weakness, anemia]]> , and ]]>gingivitis]]> . Scurvy is very rare in the United States and occurs most commonly in malnourished older adults and chronic alcoholics.
Scurvy is typically caused by a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables or foods fortified with vitamin C.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing scurvy:
- A poor diet, with little or no fruits and vegetables
- Little or no vitamin C in the diet
- Anorexia nervosa]]>
- Poor dental hygiene
- Gastrointestinal diseases (eg, ]]>malabsorption]]> , ]]>inflammatory bowel disease]]> , ]]>dyspepsia]]> , ]]>Whipple's disease]]> )
- A fad diet
- Self-imposed restrictive diets for weight loss or due to ]]>food allergies]]>
- Sunken eyes
- Tender gums and/or tooth loss
- Muscular pain
- Reopening of old wounds or sores
- Internal bleeding
- Loss of appetite
- Bruising easily
- Weight loss; inability to gain weight
- Increased heart rate
- Aching and swelling in joints
- Shortness of breath
Scurvy can be diagnosed during a physical exam, based on an analysis of symptoms and diet. Your doctor may order a blood test to measure the level of vitamin C in the blood. To diagnose scurvy in infants and children, an x-ray]]> may be done.
The treatment for scurvy is simple and effective. To eliminate symptoms and make a full recovery, increase vitamin C intake to recommended levels. You can increase vitamin C levels by:
- Eating a diet rich in citrus fruits, other fruits, and vegetables
- Taking vitamin C supplements
American Academy of Family Physicians
Dietitians of Canada
Clemetson A. Shaken baby or scurvy? General Vaccine Issues. Vaccine Risk Awareness Network website. Available at: http://www.vran.org/vaccines/sbs/sbs-clemetson.htm . Accessed April 15, 2007.
Weinstein M, Babyn P, Zlotkin S. An orange a day keeps the doctor away: scurvy in the year 2000. Pediatrics . 2001;108:e55. Pediatrics website. Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/108/3/e55 . Accessed April 15, 2007.
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>Dianne Scheinberg MS, RD, LDN]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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