nutrition and health

Scurvy Symptoms

Related articles: Scurvy


Scurvy is a disease caused by a severe and prolonged vitamin C deficiency, usually due to an inadequate diet. Our body, in fact, is not able to synthesize vitamin C, which however can be taken through the regular consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an important cofactor in the formation of collagen (fundamental for maintaining the integrity of dentin, connective and bone tissue), carnitine, hormones and amino acids. Furthermore, it is an antioxidant, supports immune function, facilitates iron absorption and wound healing.

The need for vitamin C increases in different circumstances: pregnancy, physical and mental stresses of various types, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory diseases (in particular, diarrheal diseases), surgical operations and long-term drug therapies

Most common symptoms and signs *

  • Apathy
  • Asthenia
  • Cachexia
  • Depression
  • Articolar pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Bruising
  • haemarthrosis
  • Ease of bleeding and bruising
  • Swollen Gums
  • Retired Gums

Further indications

The symptoms of the disease generally appear after weeks or months when the intake of vitamin C is insufficient. Scurvy is characterized by cachexia (severe general deterioration) and widespread hemorrhagic manifestations. There is a weakening of the capillary blood vessels: slight mechanical injuries are enough to cause bleeding in various parts of the body, ecchymoses at the subcutaneous level and delays in wound healing. The gums can become swollen, purple and brittle, as well as bleed easily. Scurvy also manifests itself with a progressive sense of fatigue, depression, muscle and joint pain. Other symptoms are related to defects in connective tissue and bone tissue. In children, scurvy is particularly severe, as it alters normal bone growth.

Today, scurvy is a very rare disease, but it was once quite common among sailors engaged in long ocean crossings (due to the absence of fresh fruit and vegetables to consume).

The diagnosis of scurvy is usually based on clinical findings in patients who are at risk of vitamin C deficiency and have cutaneous or gingival signs. Furthermore, in the laboratory, it is possible to measure blood levels of ascorbic acid to demonstrate the actual deficiency.

Scurvy is treated with high doses of supplemental vitamin C. The symptomatology usually disappears within 1-2 weeks.