Most of us have been witness to a playground injury – split lip – bloody nose – or head gash – at some point in our lives. We’ve all held a child, gently applied pressure and reassured them that despite the amount of blood flowing from their head, they were in fact not as seriously injured as they thought and were not bleeding to death.
For most of us, applying simple pressure is enough to allow the cut or gash time to clot bad the bleeding to sop. However, for those who suffer from hemophilia, this is not the case.
What is hemophilia?
Hemophilia is a rare blood disorder which prevents the blood from clotting (change from liquid to solid) properly. Hemophiliacs either lack or have low levels of essential proteins (clotting factors) that work with your platelets to cause blood clotting to occur. As a result, it takes hemophiliacs longer than it would you or I to stop bleeding after a “routine” injury such as a simple fall on playground. Hemophiliacs are also more prone to internal bleeding and even a simple scrape could be potentially life threatening.
What causes it?
Approximately two percent of the population in the United States suffers from hemophilia. Hemophilia is considered to be a genetic disorder and is generally inherited from one of the parents. However, in about one-third of all cases, there is no family history of hemophilia. In these instances, it is believed that the gene which causes hemophilia may mutate on its own. There are also extremely rare instances where your body forms antibodies against the clotting factors, causing them to cease functioning properly. Acquiring hemophilia as a result of antibody formation is not common.
Who is at risk?
Hemophilia almost always impacts males. It is very rare for a female to suffer from this disease. However, while a woman may not have the disorder, she may carry the gene which causes hemophilia and may be able to pass it on to her children.
What are the symptoms?
Unless you have acquired hemophilia, the symptoms will in all likelihood present themselves during childhood.