Blood Clotting Disorder Diagnosis Bleeding Symptoms

Finding out that your blood does not function in the way that it should can be very scary for many people. However, information is key to understanding and controlling a blood disorder. By gathering as much information about your bleeding disorder, you can likely lead an active life.

Bleeding Disorder Symptoms

The following symptoms can indicate a bleeding disorder:

  • bleeding gums
  • blood in the urine
  • bloody stools
  • easy bruising
  • frequent nosebleeds
  • longer than normal bleeding.

People suffering from any of these symptoms should visit a doctor for an accurate bleeding disorder diagnosis.

Bleeding Disorders Explained

Most people’s blood uses approximately 20 different coagulation factors to form clots and stop wounds from bleeding excessively. These coagulation factors are made up of proteins, enzymes and chemicals. When a cut or other injury causes a rupture in the body’s blood vessels, the wound sets off a chain reaction of these factors in order to seal up the tears in the blood vessels and skin with blood clots, groupings or masses of blood.

However, when a bleeding disorder is present, the person with the disorder either doesn’t have enough of certain coagulation factors or is missing them altogether. In the most severe cases, even a minor injury can cause the individual to bleed to death.

Bleeding Disorder Diagnosis

In order to manage your disease successfully, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis. Not all bleeding disorders are the same, and neither are their treatments.

Your doctor will probably ask you to undergo a number of tests to narrow down a specific diagnosis. These tests can include:

  • blood tests
  • checking for rheumatoid arthritis
  • chest X-rays
  • stool analysis
  • timing how long your blood takes to clot
  • urine tests.

Your primary care physician will likely want to consult with a hematologist, which is a doctor whose specialty is blood disorder treatment.

After the consultation, your doctors may feel a CT scan would be helpful to identify internal bleeding. Also, a bone marrow scan might be necessary as well as a muscle biopsy in some cases.

Your Bleeding Disorder Diagnosis

Once the test results are in, your doctor will be able to narrow your diagnosis. Two common bleeding disorders are:

Hemophilia: Hemophilia might be the blood disorder that is most familiar to the general public. Hemophilia is usually diagnosed in childhood due to its obvious symptoms, such as excessive bleeding after a circumcision. However, some of the milder forms of the disease can escape detection for years.

A hemophiliac’s blood is missing certain coagulation factors or contains low amounts of certain coagulation factors. Depending on how many of the factors are missing or how low their levels are in the blood, hemophilia can range from mild to severe.

Hemophilia almost always attacks men. Because it is a genetic disorder, it usually runs in families, although about 30 percent of people with hemophilia have what’s known as a spontaneous genetic mutation, which means the disorder appeared without any known family history.

Von Willebrand Disease: Von Willebrand Disease is named after the doctor who first described the disease. This disorder, like hemophilia, is hereditary. Unlike hemophilia, only one blood factor, known as the von Willebrand factor, plays a part in the disease. A person suffering from von Willebrand Disease is either low in the von Willebrand factor or is missing it altogether. Von Willebrand Disease is the most common of all inherited bleeding disorders. Both men and women can inherit this disorder.

Bleeding Disorder Treatment and Prognosis

Some bleeding disorders are relatively simple, although not always easy, to manage. When it comes to hemophilia, a person with the disease might choose to limit physical activities, since the more active you are the greater the chance of injuring yourself and experiencing bleeding. Also, a person with mild hemophilia might benefit from desmopressin, a medication that stimulates clotting.

If you have hemophilia and are planning to undergo any surgery or have dental work, then you will have to make special arrangements. You may need blood transfusions.

Von Willebrand Disease is most often mild. In general, people with the mild form of the disease have lower levels of the von Willebrand factor than normal. These patients only need intervention if they are injured or have surgery or dental work. If you have a more severe form of the disease, you will need to get medical help as soon as you experience any injury.

Treatment for von Willebrand disease might include the following:

  • antifibrinolytic medications (drugs that prevent blood clots from dissolving)
  • desmopressin
  • fibrin sealants (sealants that can be applied to cuts to prevent bleeding).
  • intravenous infusion of von Willebrand factor.

With all bleeding disorders, doctors agree that early diagnosis is very important in order for you to manage well. If you suspect something is wrong, it is important to talk to your doctor. A bleeding disorder prognosis is often better if the disease is caught early and brought under control. While such bleeding disorders as hemophilia and von Willebrand disease cannot be cured, they can be managed, allowing people suffering from them to lead active and productive lives.

Resources

Advameg, Inc. (2007). Hemophilia. Retrieved September 23, 2007, from FAQs Web site: http://www.faqs.org/health/Sick-V2/Hemophlia.html.

Krapp, Kristine, Ed. (2002).Bleeding Disorders. Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health. Retrieved September 23, 2007, from the eNotes.com Web site: http://www.enotes.com/nursing-encyclopedia/bleeding-disorders.

Lippincott Williams and Wilkins (2007). Symptom: Bleeding symptoms. Retrieved September 23, 2007, from the Wrong Diagnosis Web site: http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/sym/bleeding_symptoms.htm/.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (2007). What is von Willebrand Disease? Retrieved September 23, 2007, from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Web site: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/vWD/vWD_WhatIs.html.