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Scurvy (Lack Of Vitamin C)

Bryan Applications, S

It has long been known that scurvy, or scorbutus, can be prevented by including fresh food, especially vegetables and fruit, in the diet, and the disease is now rare, apart from war conditions. It has been found that the difference between fresh and preserved or dried food, as regards the liability to cause scurvy, consists in the absence from the latter of a complex substance called water-soluble vitamin C. Infantile scurvy, sometimes called Barlow’s disease (after Sir Thomas Barlow of Lancashire), and scurvy-rickets, although it has no connection with rickets, has occurred in infants fed exclusively on boiled or preserved milk or patent foods.

Scurvy begins insidiously with a gradual loss of weight and strength and increasing pallor. The breath becomes offensive and the gums are soft and bleed easily, while teeth may loosen and dropout. Numerous minute hemorrhages occur into the skin, and slight injuries may be followed by large extravasations of blood beneath the skin Bleeding may also occur from the nose, and blood may appear in the urine, stools or vomit. Owing to extensive small bleedings into skin and underlying muscle these tissues may feel solid and hard, a condition described as scurvy-sclerosis. The patient loses his appetite and may suffer from sickness and diarrhea. There is usually mental depression and possibly headache and other nervous symptoms.

Signs of infantile scurvy:

In infantile scurvy there is great tenderness in the long bones, first in those of the legs, and the infant may scream when anyone approaches and appears to be going to touch it. The tenderness is caused by bleeding beneath the periosteum, or covering of the bones, and this also causes definite swelling of the limbs, which also may lie so motionless as to give an impression of paralysis. Later the ribs and breast-bone may sink back towards the spine and there may be swellings on the bones of the head.

The gums bleed readily and teeth may fall out. The child looks sallow and anemic. The disease usually begins before the end of the first year.

The treatment of scurvy consists in giving food containing a sufficiency of vitamin C. The juice of two or three lemons should also be given daily. It may be said that, failing other sources of vitamin, it can be obtained by moistening dry peas or beans, allowing them to sprout and cooking only for a very short time. Recovery is the rule unless the patient is very far gone or some accident, such as bleeding into the brain, has occurred.

An infant should be put on fresh milk and have a teaspoonful of orange juice three or four times a day. In all cases of scurvy an antiseptic mouth wash should be used several times a day.

Application and treatment:

Treat for symptoms and other related discomforts. Frequency use is not a substitute for proper diet.