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What Is Hemophilia?

Cuts, scrapes or similar types of injuries usually stop bleeding on their own. This is because, under normal circumstances, the blood contains proteins that cause the platelets to stick together and form clots. This prevents excess bleeding. However, if you are a hemophiliac, your blood does not have enough of the proteins necessary to promote clotting. This can lead to damaging and potentially fatal bleeding deep inside your body.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hemophilia is usually genetic. This means that you inherit it from either or both of your parents. Often, though not always, the X chromosome contains the gene that causes hemophilia. Because males only have one X chromosome, they are more likely than females to show symptoms of hemophilia. It is more common for females to be carriers that pass the gene on to their male offspring without showing symptoms themselves.

Rarely, acquired hemophilia can occur as a symptom of another condition. Pregnancy can result in acquired hemophilia, as can certain cancers, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune disorders in which the body attacks the clotting factors in the blood.

The two greatest dangers of hemophilia are blood loss and internal bleeding. The latter can be particularly dangerous if it occurs in the brain. Signs of bleeding into the brain include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Lethargy
  • Double vision
  • Sudden clumsiness or weakness
  • Repeated vomiting

If you observe these symptoms in yourself or another hemophiliac, get medical help immediately. You should also contact emergency medical services over uncontrollable bleeding or painful, warm, swollen joints. These may be a sign that bleeding into the joints is taking place.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.