Haemophilia: How increased awareness can offer better prevention against bleeding episodes

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Authored By Dr. Anoop P, Sr. Consultant – Haematology, Aster CMI Hospital

Every year, April 17th is celebrated as World Haemophilia Day to increase awareness about bleeding disorders. This year the theme from the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) is “Access for All: Prevention of Bleeds as the global standard of care”. This is a call for the community to join hands and work towards increasing awareness about Haemophilia and ensure better management of bleeding disorders.

What is Haemophilia?

Haemophilia is a rare bleeding disorder where the blood does not clot properly. People suffering from the condition often experience longer bleeding as they do not have a clotting factor that works with the platelets to stop the bleeding at the site of an injury. According to the WFH, , approximately 1 in every 1000 individuals is born with a bleeding disorder. This condition is also found to be genetic and is more common in men than in women.

What are the things that you need to know about Haemophilia?

Here are certain facts about the disease that can help you increase your knowledge and take timely measures to prevent yourself –

  1. Haemophilia is a genetic condition that can cause hemorrhage even within vital organs like the brain and can prove to be fatal.
  2. Approximately 1 in every 5000 males is born with Haemophilia which highlights how the condition is more common in boys as the inheritance is often from a mother to her son.
  3. There are three types of Haemophilia – 
    1. Haemophilia A – This is the most common type of bleeding disorder that is caused due to the deficiency of clotting factor VIII.
    2. Haemophilia B – This is characterized by the deficiency in the activity of clotting
    3. Haemophilia C – This is a milder form of Haemophilia that is caused due to the lack of the clotting factor XI.
  4. Repeated bleeding into joints is one of the biggest problems in Haemophilia as this can lead to their degeneration.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

The clinical features of Haemophilia vary depending on the severity and the deficiency of your clotting factors. While excessive bleeding is the most common factor, people with Haemophilia can also experience these symptoms –

  1. Bleeding in gums
  2. Prolonged periods
  3. Skin that easily bruises
  4. Excessive bleeding caused by cuts and injuries
  5. Frequent nosebleeds that take a long duration to stop
  6. Pain and tightness in joints
  7. Blood in the urine or stool

Furthermore, if a person with Haemophilia has bleeding inside the skull, then they may experience the following symptoms –

  1. Severe Headache
  2. Vomiting
  3. Pain in the neck
  4. Weakness
  5. Double or blurred vision
  6. Loss of coordination and balance
  7. Extreme sleepiness
  8. Convulsions

How can you identify the condition and what are the treatment options?

A common blood test can help in identifying Haemophilia and can help you understand the severity of the disease. Currently, there is no cure for the condition. However, replacing the missing clotting factor promptly as injections can help in stopping the sudden episodes of bleeding. 

Lastly, people suffering from Haemophilia can make certain lifestyle changes such as avoiding contact sports or crowded places to prevent themselves from physical injuries. Additionally, with timely medications, they can continue to enjoy a good quality of life.