Scurvy is probably best known as a condition that once affected sailors on long sea voyages. There is one cause of this condition, and that is an inadequate amount of vitamin C in the diet. Sailors used to take large amounts of fruit — usually lemons — onto their ships, and when the fruit ran out, scurvy could set in. Some of the common symptoms of this condition include pale skin with reddish or purple spots, sunken eyes, tender gums, internal bleeding and diarrhea.
This condition occurs when the body has depleted its store of vitamin C. The exact time scale for the condition to appear depends on how much vitamin C the body has stored. After the intake of vitamin C has ceased, scurvy can set in within anywhere from a week to three months.
The symptoms of scurvy include a number of ailments within the body. Sufferers can feel extremely fatigued as well as nauseated. They might also experience an overall feeling of discomfort, and pain will be felt in the muscles and joints of the body.
If the sufferer has cuts or wounds, they might take a long time to heal properly. In the mouth area, the teeth might become loose, and there may be some swelling and bleeding in the gums. The hair and skin will become dry.
Another major symptom is bleeding into the body’s muscles and joints, such as in the knees and arms. This symptom is extremely painful. If scurvy appears in a child, it can have consequences on the child’s natural growth. Thin tissue that encases the child’s bones will begin to bleed, causing pain and growth irregularities.
Scurvy is not as common as it once was. Vitamin C can easily be obtained from fruits, vegetables and drinks, including fresh milk. The body needs vitamin C to maintain healthy skin and bones. It also ensures healthy growth in the hair and helps heal any wounds, cuts or bruises.
Some people are more susceptible to an insufficiency of this important vitamin. Older people might be lacking in it, and people who live in poor countries might not be able to obtain the vitamin easily. A diet that is low in vitamin C is the biggest risk factor for scurvy. Scurvy can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. If there is a deficiency in the vitamin C levels in the white blood cells, then adequate treatment will be required.
This condition is easily treated. Improving the diet to strengthen the levels of vitamin C is all that is necessary. The symptoms should disappear within a day to a few weeks. Maintaining a diet that is rich in vitamin C will prevent any further attacks of this condition.