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Scurvy

(Vitamin C Deficiency; Scorbutus)

Definition

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. In children it can cause bone loss and fractures.Scurvy is rare in the United States and occurs most commonly in malnourished older adults and chronic alcoholics.
Gingivitis
Gingivitis
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Causes

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

Symptoms include:

Diagnosis

Scurvy may be suspected during a physical exam, based on an analysis of symptoms and diet. Your doctor will order a blood test to measure the level of vitamin C in the blood to confirm the diagnosis. To look for any specific problems the scurvy, such as bone disease, in infants and children may have an x-ray done.

Treatment

The treatment for scurvy is simple and effective. To eliminate symptoms and make a full recovery, begin vitamin C replacement until symptoms resolve and then take recommended amounts of vitamin C. You can increase vitamin C levels by:

Prevention

To help reduce your chances of getting scurvy, take the following steps:

RESOURCES

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

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES

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

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

References

Vitamin C deficiency. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 27, 2010. Accessed November 16, 2015.

Weinstein M, Babyn P, Zlotkin S. An orange a day keeps the doctor away: scurvy in the year 2000. Pediatrics. 2001 Sep;108(3):E55.

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