Hemophilia — a largely predisposed genetic disorder inhibiting the body’s ability to form blood clots — varies widely in signs and symptoms. Depending on the clotting factors (or clotting proteins) lacking in the blood, hemophilia ranges in severity from mild to moderate to severe. Generally speaking, the lower a number of clotting proteins, the higher the severity of hemophilia. So what are the symptoms of hemophilia to watch out for?
According to the National Hemophilia Foundation, a healthy individual’s clotting factor levels will fall between 50-100%. Levels below 50% determine the severity of a patient’s hemophilia. Mild hemophilia, which accounts for roughly a quarter of all those afflicted by the disorder, represents clotting factor levels between 6-49%. Moderate hemophilia represents 15% of all cases with clotting factor levels between 1-5%. Severe hemophilia accounts for roughly 60% of those affected with clotting factor levels below one percent.
The two primary symptoms of hemophilia include unusual bruising and excessive bleeding. Patients often bleed for prolonged periods of time after minor injuries or following surgery and dental work. They sometimes experience spontaneous bleeding from mucous membranes, such as sudden nosebleeds after receiving vaccinations. Bleeding may also suddenly recur after having stopped for a period of time. Large and deep cruising can also occur without apparent reason.
In addition to external bleeding, hemophiliacs are susceptible to potentially fatal internal bleeding. Symptoms include prolonged abdominal pain, blood in the stool or urine, as well as hematomas and bruises.
Other complications of severe hemophilia include intracranial bleeding, potentially resulting from a head injury. Immediate medical attention should be sought if patients experience extreme weakness or fatigue, prolonged headaches, mood swings, neck stiffness or pains, and changes in vision.
Internal bleeding in severe hemophiliacs can cause damage to joints and muscles, typically affecting the shoulders, hips, knees, and elbows. Symptoms include decreased mobility, joint swelling, and stiffening, pain, and sensitivity to the touch, as well as warmth in affected areas.
Those with hemophilia are encouraged to wear or carry special medical identification to alert healthcare professionals and first-responders in case of an emergency. Teachers and caregivers looking after children suffering from hemophilia should be made sufficiently aware of the type and severity of hemophilia in a particular child.
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