What are the symptoms of scurvy?

Scurvy is a condition resulting from too little vitamin C in the body; it affects the normal function of the nerves, digestive system, and skin. Scurvy may result in a range of symptoms, and these can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of scurvy

You may experience scurvy symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times, any of these common symptoms can be severe:

  • Dry and splitting hair
  • Dry, rough and scaly skin
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Inflamed and bleeding gums
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Poor development of tooth enamel
  • Slow healing wounds or bruises

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, if left untreated, the pain of scurvy can lead to serious vitamin-deficiency anemia that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these serious symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fainting or change in level of consciousness or lethargy
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Uncontrollable bleeding

What is scurvy?

Scurvy is a disease that affects the blood vessels, skin, and the body’s healing process, resulting in anemia, hemorrhaging of the skin, and gum disease (gingivitis). Scurvy occurs when your diet is deficient in vitamin C. Scurvy is uncommon in the United States, and those most at risk are older adults and alcoh... Read more about scurvyintroduction


What causes scurvy?

Vitamin C, also referred to ascorbic acid, is water soluble, meaning the body does not produce or store the vitamin, so it must be replenished frequently to ensure good health. Scurvy develops as a result of inadequate intake of vitamin C. If your diet is lacking in a variety of fruits and vegetables, you could be at risk of developing scurvy. Poorly balanced and inadequate diets can lead to malnutrition, which is commonly associated with scurvy.... Read more about scurvycauses


How is scurvy treated?

If you suspect you may be suffering from scurvy, it is vital that you seek medical attention. To determine whether you have scurvy, your health care professional will ask you questions related to the disease, take a blood sample, and possibly recommend that you undergo diagnostic testing. It is very important to follow your treatment plan for scurvy precisely, and to take all medications as instructed by your doctor.... Read more about scurvytreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Food, Nutrition and Diet