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Bleeding Disorders

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What are bleeding disorders?

Bleeding disorders are a group of conditions that affect your blood's ability to clot. Your blood normally clots with the help of platelets (blood cells) and proteins called clotting factors. When you have a bleeding disorder, you have an increased risk of bleeding.

What causes bleeding disorders?

You may be born with a bleeding disorder. A bleeding disorder can also develop later in life because of another illness or disease, or use of certain medicines that thin the blood. Bleeding disorders may develop because you do not have enough of certain clotting factors in your blood, or they are missing. Bleeding disorders are also caused by low levels of platelets, or platelets that do not work properly.

What are the signs and symptoms of bleeding disorders?

  • Bruising easily
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding from your gums
  • Blood in your urine or bowel movements
  • Heavy or abnormal menstrual periods in females
  • Heavy bleeding when you cut yourself

How are bleeding disorders diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask questions about your bleeding episodes. He will also ask about any medical conditions you have and medicines you take. Tell your healthcare provider if you have other family members with bleeding problems. You may have blood tests to try to find the cause of your bleeding. These may include blood tests to check platelets, clotting factors, and the amount of time it takes for your blood to clot.

How are bleeding disorders treated?

Treatment depends on the cause and type of bleeding disorder you have. You may need any of the following:

  • Transfusions of clotting factors, platelets, or other parts of blood that help with clotting may be needed.
  • Medicines help your body make more platelets or clotting factors. Medicines may also be given to help prevent bleeding or suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the medicines you may need.
  • Vitamin K may be given to improve your blood's ability to clot.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Do not take aspirin or NSAIDs. These medicines can cause you to bleed and bruise more easily.
  • Avoid activities that may cause scratches or bruises. Wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injury. Ask your healthcare provider which activities are safe for you.
  • Use caution with skin and mouth care. Use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush to keep your skin and gums from bleeding. Use lip balm to prevent your lips from cracking. If you shave, use an electric shaver.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have nausea, vomiting, or a severe headache.
  • You bump or injure your head.
  • You are vomiting blood.
  • You cannot control your bleeding episodes, even after treatment.
  • You have new pain in the lower part of your stomach, groin, or lower back.
  • Your urine is pink or red.
  • You see blood in your bowel movement, or it is black.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have joint pain.
  • You have new pain and swelling in a body area.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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