Scurvy is better known as a vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps develop and maintain several bodily structures and functions. Some of its functions include; the proper formation of collagen, connective tissues structure and stability, iron absorption, antioxidant action, wound healing, cholesterol, and protein metabolism, creation of neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine.
SYMPTOMS OF SCURVY
So, from the above, we can see that vitamin C plays many roles in the body. A deficiency of this vitamin C can easily cause a variety of health problems. The symptoms of scurvy come in stages. Early symptoms include; irritability, aching legs, reduced appetite, low-grade fever, and weakness. Symptoms after one to three months include; anemia (the lack of enough red blood cells), gingivitis, skin hemorrhage, blue-black bruising on the legs or feet, small bumps at hair follicles, tender swollen joints, tooth decay. Others include shortness of breath, chest pain, eye dryness and irritation. Furthermore, other symptoms are reduced immune health and wound healing, blurred vision, light sensitivity, mood swings, headache, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
After these symptoms, if the deficiency is still left untreated, then it’ll cause several life-threatening conditions that may be difficult to withstand. These conditions include; severe jaundice, body pains, tenderness, and swelling, hemolysis, tooth loss and fever. Furthermore, other symptoms are internal bleeding, neuropathy or numbness of appendages, coma, delirium, organ failure, and unfortunately, death.
In addition, you should also note that age doesn’t matter when it comes to scurvy. It affects persons of any age, including infants.
Infants with scurvy will become irritable, anxious, and very difficult to soothe. In some cases, the infant may appear paralyzed, lying with their arms and feet extended halfway out. Unfortunately, infants with scurvy may also develop weak and brittle bones, which makes them prone to fractures. Since the body cannot make its own vitamin C, all the needed vitamin C comes from foods, drinks, or supplements. Unfortunately, most people diagnosed with scurvy lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables or lack a healthy diet.
RISK FACTORS OF SCURVY
-Restrictive or specified diets
-Low income, reduced access to nutritious foods
-Use of illegal drugs
-Daily alcohol consumption
-Being homeless or a refugee
-Living in places with limited access to vegetables and fruits
-Eating disorders or psychiatric conditions that involve a fear of food
Fortunately, although the symptoms of scurvy can be severe, fortunately, scurvy itself is easy to treat. Scurvy treatment involves the administration of vitamin C supplements by mouth or injection. Vitamin C is also present in fruits and vegetables. It is also present juices, snacks, and cereals. Furhermore, if you notice some mild scurvy symptoms, the best thing to do is to ensure you take at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. So, if you don’t have access to fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C, you can easily opt for oral vitamin C supplements. These supplements are available worldwide. So, if symptoms persist after doing these, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or physician. In addition, for more severe scurvy cases, doctors recommend higher doses of vitamin C supplements for usage in some weeks or even months.
Statistics show that most people who are undergoing treatment for scurvy recover quickly after starting treatment. After a day or two, you should see improvements in areas such as;
5. Mood swings
Additionally, other symptoms may take few weeks to improve after treatment, such symptoms are;
Vitamin C is obtainable from most citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and lime. These fruits have been employed traditionally to prevent and treat scurvy. Several other fruits also comprise higher doses of vitamin C compared to citrus fruits. Many processed foods, like juices and cereals, also contain a reasonable amount of vitamin C. Foods under this category include;
1. Guavas and papayas
2. Sweet peppers
3. Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard
4. Brussels sprout
6. Kiwi fruit
7. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries
8. Mangoes and pineapple
9. Tomatoes, tomato paste, or juice
10. Green peas
11. Cantaloupes and most melons
Note that vitamin C easily dissolves in water. Prolonged storage, canning, or cooking can reduce the vitamin contents in the food significantly. So, it’s advisable to consume vitamin C-rich foods raw or as close to natural as possible.