Scurvy : Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment


Scurvy (Scorbutus) is a disease which is caused because of the lack of vitamin C in the body. When a person is affected by Scorbutus then the blood vessels, skin and healing process of the body is affected. This leads to skin haemorrhage and disease of the gums which is known as gingivitis. It is quite rare in developed countries like the United States. People who drink too much alcohol and people who have malnutrition are at higher risk of getting scurvy.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which is also known as ascorbic acid. This vitamin is not produced by the body and it is also not stored in the body. Vitamin C is very important for a healthy body so to supply the body with the necessary quantity of vitamin C, you must consume enough quantity of fruits and vegetable in your daily diet. Fruits and vegetables are a reliable source of Vitamin C. Lack of necessary nutrients can cause malnutrition and malnutrition are related to Scorbutus. It is possible that the signs and symptoms of scurvy may be constant or it may occur over certain periods. The signs and symptoms are different according to the individual. Mid symptoms of fatigue are noticed in most people while symptoms like anaemia and infections may be seen in many other people. There are many nutritional supplements available in the market today which can treat scurvy very easily. There are other things too which we must follow treat and prevent scurvy, for example, limiting consumption of alcohol and eating a balanced diet. We should include enough quantity of vegetables and fruits in our daily diet to maintain a balanced diet.


If Scorbutus is not treated in time then it can get complicated into vitamin-deficiency anaemia. If there are other symptoms like shortness of breath, fainting, lethargy, swelling, muscle pain, rapid heart rate and unnecessary bleeding then you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. Due to lack of vitamin C in the body, Scurvy obstructs the normal function of the nerves, skin and the digestive system.

Symptoms of Scurvy

There are various types of symptoms and they are different according to the person. The major symptoms of scurvy are as follows:

  1. Unnecessary dryness of hair and splitting in the hair
  2. Dryness in the mouth and eyes
  3. Depression
  4. Skin getting Dry, rough and scaly
  5. Fatigue
  6. Frequently occurring infections
  7. Bleeding from the nose
  8. Bleeding of the Gums and Inflammation
  9. Swelling and Pain in the joints
  10. Problems in the enamel of the teeth
  11. Wounds and bruises not healing on time
  12. Instability of Vasomotor

If the disease is not treated in time then it can lead to complications which may be fatal. The problem may eventually lead to vitamin-deficiency anaemia which should be immediately treated without any delay. The serious complications of scurvy are as follows:

  1. Difficulty and shortness of breath
  2. Lethargy and feeling of faintness
  3. Rapidness of heart rate
  4. Uncontrolled bleeding

Causes of Scurvy

The major cause of Scorbutus is a deficiency of vitamin C in the body. Vitamin C, which is also known as ascorbic acid is a water-soluble type of Vitamin. It is not produced by the body and it also can’t be stored in the body. This is why; the body must be regularly supplied with vitamin C. If the body doesn’t get enough supply of Vitamin C then there will be a high risk of getting a disease like Scorbutus.


There are various risk factors which are associated with Scorbutus, however, all the risk factors may not necessarily cause scurvy. Some of the risk factors are as follows:

  1. Children fed milk from the bottle without proper supplements
  2. Less consumption of fruits and vegetables
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Excessive smoking

Prevention of Scurvy

There are a number of ways with which we can prevent problems like Scorbutus. By following these steps, we can reduce the chances of getting scurvy.

  1. Avoid excessive smoking
  2. Including food rich in vitamin C in daily diets like citrus fruits, berries, melons, green peppers, potatoes and green vegetables
  3. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet for every day.

Treatment of Scurvy

It is necessary to seek immediate medical attention if any symptoms related to scurvy are noticed. If immediate treatment is not done then it may result in serious complications. First, to make a proper diagnosis of Scurvy the doctor may ask for a medical history of the patient and the patient may be further referred for blood tests and diagnostic testing. If you are diagnosed with scurvy then you must follow the doctor’s advice strictly and take the medicines as prescribed.

The treatment for scurvy is done especially focusing on the main cause of scurvy. The most important thing to do is to maintain the level of vitamin C in the body. To do that, vitamin supplements or Vitamin C supplements may be prescribed which will fulfil the deficiency of Vitamin C in the body. It would be better if you include food like citrus fruits, melons, berries, Oranges and green vegetables in the daily diet. These food sources will fulfil the necessity of vitamin C in the body.

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