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.
Scurvy is typically caused by a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables or foods fortified with vitamin C.
The following factors increase your chance of developing scurvy:
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.
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:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
American Society for Nutrition
Dietitians of Canada
Vitamin C deficiency. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115249/Vitamin-C-deficiency. Updated April 27, 2010. Accessed September 27, 2016.
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.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.