Scurvy - Causes and Treatment

Scurvy Disease

Many times adults don’t always follow a well-balanced diet. If an individual does not get enough vitamins and minerals in their diet, you could find yourself suffering from any number of different illnesses. It is important to watch for any early signs of these illnesses, so that you can seek medical attention.

Scurvy is also referred to as Vitamin C deficiency, Barlow’s disease, and deficiency of ascorbic acid. Scurvy is a disease that results from a lack of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for us to have healthy bones and teeth. It also plays an important role in the healing process. Scurvy is divided into two forms: adult and infantile.

Who can get it?

Scurvy can affect anyone. It affects all races, and has no sexual disposition. It can occur at any age. Infantile scurvy occurs in the infant’s months of the child. Scurvy is rarely seen in the United States. Elderly individuals are more likely to get this disease, if their diets don’t include fruits and vegetables.

What causes it?

Scurvy happens when an individual does not get a sufficient amount of Vitamin C. They are certain conditions that will put stress on the body’s demand for Vitamin C, and will increase an individual’s chance of getting Scurvy. These include pregnancy, inflammatory disease, burns, surgery, and exposure to heat or cold. Other causes include not having enough food rich in Vitamin C, and areas that experience famines.

How does it happen?

Scurvy results from an insufficient amount of Vitamin C in an individual’s diet.

Where does it appear?

Scurvy will lead to the formation of liver spots. These spots appear on the thighs and legs of the individual.

What are the symptoms?

It usually takes about three months for the symptoms of Scurvy to appear. The most common symptoms include swollen, purple spongy gums that will bleed very easily. It also includes fatigue, weight loss, weakness, irritability, aches, fever, and wounds that don’t heal. As the disease progresses, the individual’s teeth many become loose, and bleeding under the skin can possibly occur. In some rare cases, symptoms will include swelling of the legs, bleeding in the lining of the eyelids and arthritis. In infants, symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, failure to gain weight. The baby may not move his/her legs, and screams when moved. The infant may also suffer from enlarged joints.

How can it be diagnosed?

A doctor will first take a medical history of the individual, which includes a look at the person’s eating habits and diet. The doctor will also do a check of the person’s ascorbic acid level; and a look at the white blood cell count. In infants the doctor may do a check of the bones, to see for the early signs of Scurvy.

What treatments are available?

If Scurvy is not treated, an individual will die, but with proper treatment a full recovery will occur. If an individual does not get proper treatment, Scurvy can prove to be fatal. An individual will usually begin to see some improvement after approximately forty-eight hours of taking the recommended doses of Vitamin C. For adults the treatment includes getting 250 milligrams of Vitamin C four times a day orally. For infants, an initial dose of 50 milligrams four times daily is recommended. A person is also encouraged to drink lots of orange juice. A doctor will recommend that an individual eat foods rich in Vitamin C these include: citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Scurvy is an illness that has a long history. Scurvy was very prevalent in marine travel, often killing passengers and crew who had embarked on long journeys across the seas. It was in 1747, that a man by the name of James Lind found that if your diet included citrus fruit that Scurvy could be prevented and treated. While this disease has a long history, the important thing is that this disease still affects many individuals who are in areas of the world that suffer from malnutrition. It is critical that developed nations educate individuals in these areas about having a proper balanced diet, in an effort to stamp out the continuation of Scurvy.

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