World Hemophilia Day is an international observance held annually on April 17 by the WFH (World Federation of Hemophilia). It is an awareness day for hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, which also serves to raise funds and attract volunteers for the WFH. Hemophilia is quite rare. Only 1 in 10,000 people are born with it. This year the theme of Hemophilia is “Sharing Knowledge makes us stronger.”
Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder in which a person lacks or has low levels of certain proteins called “clotting factors” and as a result, the blood doesn’t clot properly. This can lead to spontaneous bleeding as well as bleeding following injuries or surgery. Blood contains many proteins called clotting factors; clotting factor is a protein in blood that controls bleeding that can help to stop bleeding. People with hemophilia have low levels of either factor VIII (8) or factor IX (9). The severity of hemophilia that a person has is determined by the amount of factor in the blood. The lower the amount of the factor, the more likely it is that bleeding will occur which can lead to serious health problems.
There are several different types of hemophilia. The following two are the most common:
Hemophilia A (Classic Hemophilia)-This type is caused by a lack or decrease of clotting factor VIII.
Hemophilia B (Christmas disease)-This type is caused by a lack or decrease of clotting factor IX.
Symptoms of Hemophilia:
- Bleeding into the joints: Bleeding within joints that can lead to chronic joint disease, swelling and pain or tightness; it often affects the knees, elbows, and ankles.
- Bleeding in the head and sometimes in the brain which can cause long-term problems, such as seizures and paralysis.
- Bleeding into the skin (which is bruising) or muscle and soft tissue causing a build-up of blood in the area (called a hematoma).
- Bleeding from the mouth and gums, and bleeding that is hard to stop after losing a tooth.
- Bleeding after circumcision (surgery performed on male babies to remove the hood of skin, called the foreskin, covering the head of the penis).
- Bleeding after having shots, such as vaccinations.
- Bleeding in the head of an infant after a difficult delivery.
- Blood in the urine or stool.
- Frequent and hard-to-stop nosebleeds.
- Death can occur if the bleeding cannot be stopped or if it occurs in a vital organ such as the brain.
- Get an annual comprehensive checkup at a hemophilia treatment center.
- Get vaccinated—Hepatitis A and B are preventable.
- Treat bleeds early and adequately.
- Exercise and maintain a healthy weight to protect your joints.
- Get tested regularly for blood-borne infections.