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Bleeding disorders are a group of medical conditions that result in blood not clotting properly. They are quite common and affect over 3 million Americans.
The most common bleeding disorder is von Willebrand (vWD) disease; other bleeding disorders include hemophilia A and B and Factor II, V, VII, X or XII deficiencies. vWD disease occurs when the von Willebrand factor, a type of protein to help with clotting, is missing or deficient from the blood leading to prolonged/excessive bleeding.
“There are three different types of von Willebrand disease—Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3,” said Bac Nguyen, M.D., physician at Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Mullica Hill Commons. “The type of the disease is determined by the levels of the von Willebrand factor within the individual's blood. The types advance in severity and rareness from Type 1 to 3.”
If vWD is mild and if it is detected early in a person’s life, they can live relatively normal lives and may not require treatment in any capacity.
“However, people with any type of bleeding disorder will generally be advised to avoid certain medicines that may thin their blood,” said Dr. Nguyen. “Medicines to avoid can include common over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen.”
Extra precautions should be taken if someone with a blood disorder is going to have surgery or dental work done, or if they plan on giving birth.
“There is a chance that without the proper precautions, a person could lose too much blood during an otherwise routine procedure,” said Dr. Nguyen.
There are variety symptoms for different types of bleeding disorders, but few of these symptoms remain constant across all types, however, including:
- Unexplained or excessive bruising: Bleeding disorders often lead to bruises from minor everyday incidents such as bumping into a wall or hitting your hand on something too hard.
- Excessive bleeding from minor cuts: Scrapes and other minor cuts, such as a paper cut, should bleed for a short time and then stop. Someone with a bleeding disorder may have excessive bleeding from a small scratch or laceration.
- Frequent nosebleeds: An occasional nosebleed is common in children, especially during cold and flu season. If a child has frequent nosebleeds, there may be an underlying cause.
- Heavy menstrual cycles: By the time this symptom comes along, many women will already know if they have an inherited bleeding disorder. However, this can be something to look for when identifying diseases that come about later in life.