Getting to Know Scurvy, a Rare Disease Due to Vitamin C Deficiency

Getting to Know Scurvy, a Rare Disease Due to Vitamin C Deficiency

Some people are more familiar with the benefits of vitamin C to prevent canker sores and brighten the skin, but its role is more than that. Without adequate intake of vitamin C, you are even at the risk of developing a rare disease known as scurvy disease.

What is Scurvy Disease?

Read: What is Pellagra Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Scurvy is a rare disease caused by a very severe vitamin C deficiency. This disease can cause lethargy and weakness, gum disease, anemia, and bleeding through the skin.

A severe deficiency of vitamin C can also cause swelling and pain in some parts of the body, especially the legs.

Not infrequently, this condition, also known as scurvy disease, interferes with the function of the immune system and cholesterol metabolism in the body.

Cases of scurvy disease in modern times are rare because most people can meet their daily needs for vitamin C from food. In fact, people who rarely eat healthily are not necessarily at risk of experiencing it.

Scurvy usually only occurs when a person is deficient in vitamin C for at least three months. Citing DermNet NZ, in developing countries, vitamin C deficiency occurs in about 10% of women and 14% of men.

Signs and Symptoms of Scurvy Disease

Symptoms of the scurvy disease can appear within 8–12 weeks. The initial signs are lethargic and tired body, weight loss, and decreased appetite. In the next 1-3 months, other symptoms may occur such as:

  • muscle ache,
  • anemia,
  • gum disease,
  • hard to breathe,
  • loose or loose teeth,
  • curly hair,
  • changes in mood (mood),
  • swelling in several parts of the body, as well as
  • the appearance of red spots due to bleeding under the skin.

If the patient does not get proper treatment, scurvy can get worse and cause the destruction of red blood cells.

Patients may also experience jaundice, spontaneous bleeding, and nerve damage.

A study in the Journal of Clinical Orthopedics and Trauma also reported the presence of subperiosteal hemorrhage in patients with scurvy. This bleeding occurs at the ends of long bones, such as the femur.

Causes and Risk Factors for Scurvy Disease

Scurvy disease is caused by a lack of vitamin C intake. The human body cannot produce vitamin C on its own, so you have to get enough of it from your daily diet.

Without adequate intake of vitamin C, the body cannot form collagen. In addition, the body's ability to form hormones such as dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine will be disrupted.

If the body can't form enough collagen, the various tissues within it will start to break down.

The gums become weak, the hair becomes squiggly, and blood begins to leak out of the vessels, causing bleeding.

Vitamin C deficiency also has an impact on various body mechanisms. The function of the immune system is weakened so that you are more susceptible to disease.

Absorption of iron also decreases and makes you susceptible to iron deficiency anemia.

Usually, scurvy is more common in people with the following conditions.

  • Have a diet that is very minimal in fruits and vegetables.
  • A restricted diet due to difficulty swallowing, allergies, or other causes.
  • Have a mental disorder that hinders food intake.
  • Experiencing severe nausea due to the effects of chemotherapy.
  • Have digestive disorders that interfere with nutrient absorption, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
  • Addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs.

Available treatment for Scurvy Disease

Doctors can diagnose scurvy disease with a physical exam and blood tests to determine the level of vitamin C in your body.

After that, the doctor will provide treatment according to your severity.

Scurvy is actually a disease that can be easily treated through diet. You can overcome this by eating food sources of vitamin C, especially vegetables and fruits.

However, severe vitamin C deficiency needs to be treated by giving vitamin C supplements orally or by injection of vitamin C. The doctor will give supplements in the following dosages.

  • 1-2 grams per day for 2-3 days.
  • 500 milligrams over the next 7 days.
  • 100 milligrams for 1-3 months.

Complaints of pain and lethargy will begin to decrease 24 hours after treatment. Meanwhile, the symptoms of bruising and bleeding will subside in 1-2 weeks.

Patients usually recover completely after three months without recurrence.

That’s information about Scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C intake. You can prevent this disease by getting enough vitamin C from food.

Adequate intake of vitamins will make the body always healthy.