Pellagra is a deficiency disease, and can have severe effects on the body. Read on to know more about its symptoms…
The term ‘pellagra’ comes from the Italian word, pelle, which means ‘skin’, and agro, which means ‘sour’. It was coined by Francesco Frapoli in the mid-18th century, when this disease spread on a vast scale across Italy. It is caused by the deficiency of niacin, a type of vitamin B, in our body. It is associated with diarrhea, dementia, and dermatitis, and if left unchecked, it can be fatal.
Alteration of protein metabolism is another cause of this disease.
Symptoms and Signs
The first symptom of pellagra is reddening of the skin. It looks like sunburn in the beginning, but slowly the color changes to brown. Also, skin exposed to sunlight, heat, and friction will develop superficial scaling. There might also be eruption of rashes, and the skin may become prone to various bacterial infections. The skin also starts to itch, and there will be a burning sensation. The lips, tongue, and gums start to swell and/or peel. Lesions occur mainly on the hands, arms, lower legs, neck, and even the face.
Another primary sign is diarrhea. People also lose their appetite, suffer from pain in the abdomen, and may experience vomiting. They also have excessive salivation, and show signs of constipation. Very painful ulcers may develop in the mouth, and make it difficult to eat properly. Intestinal bleeding is also a common symptom. Because these symptoms make it much harder to eat more, patients tend to take in even less nutritious food, and get caught in a vicious cycle.
Some other important symptoms include lack of proper sleep, fatigue, and apathy. The person might also get hallucinations, and suffer from depression. Not only this, but he/she might also experience memory lapses. Headaches, inflammation of the nerves, dementia, stupor, tremors, etc., are some of the more serious signs.
The disease also causes stiffness of the body and difficulty in moving the arms and legs. Other symptoms related to skeleto-muscular systems are involuntary grasping or sucking movements. Sometimes, people also lose control over their muscles.
At the very first stage of this disease, patients should be given doses of niacin or vitamin B. Protect the patient from harsh sunlight, and give them lots of food rich in vitamin B. If this disease is diagnosed early, the person can easily be cured. But it’s better to prevent these kinds of diseases than to cure them. So eat healthy, take in plenty of vitamins, and stay healthy!