What Are Bleeding Disorders?
Bleeding disorders are a set of conditions that occur when your blood cannot clot properly. Normally, if you experience an injury (such as a cut), the platelets in your blood will create a plug at the injured area to stop the bleeding. Clotting factors, which are proteins in the blood, then work to form a fibrin clot. The fibrin clot holds the plug in place while the body heals.
If you have a bleeding disorder, you may experience excessive bleeding when you have an injury. Bleeding disorders can be caused by:
- Abnormal or not enough platelets
- Abnormal or not enough clotting proteins
- Abnormal blood vessels
- Diseases like severe liver disease
- Lack of vitamin K
There are many types of bleeding disorders. Most are inherited, though some can develop as a result of other conditions, such as severe liver disease. They can also occur as a side effect of certain medications, like blood thinners. The most well-known bleeding disorders are:
- Hemophilia – A rare, inherited condition that affects mostly males
- Platelet disorders – Less likely to be inherited and are more often caused by autoimmune disorders
- Von Willebrand disease – A more common inherited condition caused by an abnormal or missing von Willebrand clotting factor
Some blood disorders can develop later in life if the body attacks its own clotting factors. Left untreated, bleeding disorders can be deadly.
Bleeding disorder symptoms include:
- Bleeding gums
- Bleeding in the joints
- Bruising easily
- Excessive bleeding following dental work, surgery or a minor cut
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Nosebleeds for no reason
Treatment varies depending on the type of bleeding disorder you have. Treatments can include:
- Factor concentrates – You may receive intravenous infusions of donated human plasma to boost your clotting factors.
- Fresh frozen plasma – Plasma is part of your blood that contains blood proteins and clotting factors. You may receive donated plasma to give your blood a boost of clotting factors and blood proteins.
- Hormonal contraceptives – Birth control pills can help with heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) – A birth control device that is inserted into the uterus can help control heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Platelet transfusions – This is when healthy donor platelets are circulated into your blood intravenously.
- Vitamin K supplements – These supplements can be given orally (by mouth) or intravenously (by injection).
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of a bleeding disorder, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat bleeding disorders.