• Scurvy

    (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, impaired wound healing, anemia , and gingivitis . Scurvy is rare in the United States and occurs most commonly in malnourished older adults and chronic alcoholics.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Scurvy is typically caused by a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables or foods fortified with vitamin C.

    Risk Factors

    The following factors increase your chance of developing scurvy:


    Symptoms include:
    • Weakness
    • Paleness
    • Sunken eyes
    • Tender gums and/or tooth loss
    • Muscular pain
    • Reopening of old wounds or sores
    • Loss of appetite
    • Bruising easily
    • Weight loss; inability to gain weight
    • Diarrhea
    • Increased heart rate
    • Fever
    • Irritability
    • Aching and swelling in joints
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue


    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


    To help reduce your chances of getting scurvy, take the following steps:
    • Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
    • Get a sufficient amount of vitamin C, through diet and/or supplements.


    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    American Society for Nutrition http://www.nutrition.org


    Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca


    Vitamin C deficiency. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 27, 2010. Accessed December 22, 2014.

    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/content/108/3/e55.full.html. Accessed December 22, 2014.

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