International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1007/s12185-018-02575-w Pages: 618-621

Vitamin C deficiency: rare cause of severe anemia with hemolysis

1. Allegheny Health Network, Department of Internal Medicine

2. Allegheny Health Network, Department of Hematology-Oncology

Correspondence to:
Hira Shaikh



Historically known to be a disease of sailors and soldiers in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, scurvy is a rare nutritional deficiency in the developed world, but it can still be seen among the alcoholics and the malnourished. We present a case of a 39-year-old alcoholic male who presented with progressive fatigue and diffuse purpuric rash with scattered ecchymosis for 2 months. Blood work was remarkable for hemoglobin of 9.1 g/dl, which further dropped to 7 g/dl over the next few days. He was then found to have hemolysis on lab work. After an extensive workup, the common causes of hemolytic anemia were ruled out, vitamin C level was checked, which interestingly resulted as 0 mg/dl. Supplementation with oral vitamin C resulted in the gradual resolution of hemolytic anemia and rash. Hemoglobin improved to 15 g/dl in 4 weeks, with normalization of vitamin C level. The clinical features of scurvy can easily be confused with conditions such as vasculitis, deep venous thrombosis, and systemic bleeding disorders. Therefore, comprehensive workup up is required prior to the diagnosis. Although rare, being a reversible condition, early diagnosis and treatment of scurvy in high-risk populations cannot be stressed enough.

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