Haemophilia: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
What is haemophilia?
Haemophilia refers to a group of inherited disorders associated with abnormal bleeding. The bleeding occurs because part of the blood - called plasma - has too little of a protein that helps blood clot.
Symptoms of haemophilia range from increased bleeding after trauma, injury, or surgery to sudden bleeding with no apparent cause. There are two main types of haemophilia:
- Haemophilia A - also called classical haemophilia - is more common and occurs in about 80% of people with haemophilia
- Haemophilia B - also called Christmas disease - is less common and occurs in about 20% of people with haemophilia
Haemophilia A results from too little of a plasma protein called factor VIII, which helps blood clot. The greater the deficiency, the more severe the symptoms.
- Mild haemophilia: 5% to 50% of the normal factor VIII level
- Moderate haemophilia: 1% to 5% of the normal factor VIII level
- Severe haemophilia: Less than 1% of the normal factor VIII level
Most people who have haemophilia A have moderate or severe symptoms.
Haemophilia B results from too little of a plasma protein called factor IX, which helps blood clot. As in haemophilia A, haemophilia B can be mild, moderate, or severe. The greater the deficiency, the more severe the symptoms.
If there is no family history of haemophilia, an infant would not be routinely tested for the condition. However, if there is a family history of haemophilia, specific tests can be done from an umbilical cord blood sample to see if a newborn infant has haemophilia. In fact, if the family desires, such testing can be done before a child is born.
For moderate or severe haemophilia,doctors and caregivers usually don't see any signs of the condition at birth or even for some time afterwards.
For mild haemophilia, you may not have any noticeable symptoms until you undergo a dental procedure, which may cause you to bleed heavily, or you may not have any unusual bleeding unless you are injured in an accident or have surgery.