Scurvy

Before we start with what is the meaning of Scurvy, note that it was discovered fairly late around the early 20th century after millions of sailors across the world had succumbed to the disease. 

What is Scurvy?

Scurvy is a disease that is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). It is more likely to occur in individuals who have inadequate consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in their diet. The Scurvy symptoms are dependent on the limited store of Vitamin C in the human body.

What are the Symptoms of Scurvy?

The symptoms of Scurvy disease are different in early and late stages. The early-stage symbols are non-specific. However, with the passage of time, there are clear indicators of Scurvy. 

1. Early Symptoms 

  • General feeling of unwell

  • Appetite loss 

  • Fatigue 

  • Diarrhoea

  • Nausea

  • Painful muscles and joints 

  • Fever

  • Small bleeding points around hair follicles 

2. Late Symptoms 

  • Loose teeth 

  • Spongy, swollen and purplish gum which is prone to bleeding

  • Bleeding into skin 

  • Bulging eyes 

  • Brownish, dry and scaly skin 

  • Slow-healing wounds

  • Opening of healed scars 

  • Bleeding from muscles and joints causing swelling over bones

  • Bone growth prematurely stopped 

An afflicted individual is likely to display a combination of these Scurvy symptoms. 

What Causes Scurvy?

Find out the Scurvy causes as indicated below –

  • No Vitamin C intake 

  • Restrictive or unusual diet having a few Vitamin C sources

  • Anorexia or other eating disorder

  • Smoking (reduces Vitamin C absorption from food by the body)

Do You Know?

Limes were stored in huge quantities in British ships to prevent scurvy. In the 18th century, all British naval ships due for a long journey had to keep sufficient stock of limes. The nickname of British sailors as "limeys" continues till date.  

Scurvy Treatment

Intake of Vitamin C is the primary treatment for Scurvy, and to that effect, a greater portion of fresh vegetables and fruits are recommended in diet. Vitamin C supplements may also be prescribed by medical practitioners. 

In the absence of more apparent signs, blood tests help in detection of Scurvy. Proper treatment may provide relief within 48 hours to two weeks. Treatment should be initiated with the detection of early scurvy symptoms. 

Different Sources of Vitamin C

Vitamin C was discovered by Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi in the 1930s that is about hundreds of years later after two million sailors had died from Scurvy. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in keeping bones healthy, maintaining tissues, and protecting blood vessels and cells. 

As Scurvy disease is caused by the deficiency of Vitamin C, let us take a look at the different sources of the same. 

  • Vegetables and herbs – red and green chilli peppers, bell peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, potatoes.

  • Fruits – guava, blackberries, lemons and limes, papaya, oranges, strawberries, kiwis.

If you are considering what prevents Scurvy, at least 10mg of Vitamin C intake per day is advised. 

Scurvy Effects

Scurvy disease causes the following effects –

  • Persisting weakness and fatigue 

  • Mental health issues 

  • Severe joint pain 

  • Bleeding swollen gums

  • Loss of teeth 

  • Blue or red spots on skin particularly on shins

  • Skin bruises easily 

Test Your Knowledge 

i. Which of the following are signs of Scurvy?

(a) Appetite loss   

(b) Fatigue  

(c) Nausea 

(d) All of the above 

ii. Which of the following factors are causes of Scurvy?

(a) Lack of fresh vegetables and fruits in diet 

(b) Alcohol consumption excess

(c) Restrictive diet due to allergy 

(d) All of the above

Solutions: i. (d) All of the above, ii. (d) All of the above

Learn more about Scurvy symptoms and other related topics through our online classes. You can also download free pdf solutions that will enhance your knowledge. Now you can even download our Vedantu app for easier access to both the study materials and online interactive sessions.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Scurvy is caused by the deficiency of which vitamin?

Scurvy is caused by the deficiency of Vitamin C.

2. What are the effects of scurvy?

The major effects of Scurvy include gum disease and loss of teeth, oedema or swelling, small red spots from bleeding beneath skin, bone pain or myalgia and poor wound healing, among others. 

3. What is the treatment for individuals suffering from scurvy?

The primary method of treating scurvy is that of increased Vitamin C. Consequently, medical practitioners often prescribe Vitamin C supplements along with fruits and vegetables which are rich in this component.