Scurvy Disease

Scurvy is an ancient disease that first plagued sea explorers centuries ago. Although it is comparatively rarer nowadays, it still affects people of all ages…especially poor people, or older people living on a poor diet.

Cause of Scurvy

Scurvy is caused due to a deficiency of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This vitamin is found in many fresh fruits and vegetables. It is important in the formation of collagen, which constitutes normal tissues. Without it, normal tissue synthesis cannot take place.

Symptoms of Scurvy

Symptoms of Scurvy

The symptoms associated with scurvy are very noticeable. They start off by being signs of weakness and aching joints and muscles, and weakening of capillaries which then progresses to bleeding of the gums and other spontaneous haemorrhage, loosening of the teeth, anemia, drying-up of the skin and hair and general debility. It leads to the formation of livid spots on the skin. These spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs. A person victimized by this disease looks pale, feels depressed and can be partially immobilized. Severe phases of this disorder can cause death.

Infants with scurvy have their bone development interfered with, because of the lack of the vitamin.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Weakness
  • black-and-blue marks on the skin
  • joint pain
  • gum disease
  • corkscrew hairs

Treatment of Scurvy

If scurvy is left untreated, it will result in death.

Treatment, however, is not that difficult…hence; death due to scurvy is not common in modern time.

Scurvy is treated with large amounts of Vitamin C. In addition to being present in foods, it is also available in syrup or tablet form for easy consumption.

Adults can take 250 milligrams of Vitamin C four times a day to cure the disease. If the case is severe, the doses of 300 to 500 milligrams may be needed for several months.

Infants are initially treated with doses of 50 milligrams four times daily for one week, which is then followed by 50 milligrams three times daily for another month.

In special cases, such as pregnancy, nursing mothers, old age, recovering/ailing patients, a dose of 100 milligrams a day will do.

Preventing Scurvy

Eating foods that are rich in Vitamin C can go a long way in ensuring protection from scurvy. Foods that are a good source of Vitamin C are:

  • Citrus fruits (limes, oranges etc)
  • Parsley
  • Pawpaw
  • Berries
  • Capsicum
  • Leafy green vegetables

Vitamin C supplements can also be taken.

Scurvy can be beaten, and we should consider ourselves much more fortunate than those sea explorers hundreds of years ago.

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