17th April is marked as World Haemophilia Day, and it is observed worldwide to spread awareness of this genetic disorder. Haemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder caused by the deficiency of substances called clotting factors that are necessary to control bleeding in the body. People who have haemophilia are at risk of abnormal bleeding throughout the body, especially in the joints and muscles. Bleeding may occur after an injury or for no obvious reason and may lead to disabling joint problems. The different types of haemophilia depending on the clotting factors.
Symptoms of haemophilia are usually first noticed during infancy or childhood. However, some people with milder forms of haemophilia may not develop symptoms until later on.
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts or injuries, or after surgery or tooth extraction
- Bleeding into a joint or muscle that causes pain and swelling
- Many large or deep bruises
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Blood in the urine (haematuria)
- Joint pain and swelling caused by internal bleeding
There’s no cure yet. But with proper treatment and self-care, most people with haemophilia can maintain an active, productive lifestyle. Home treatment for haemophilia includes learning how to recognize when bleeding has started, administering clotting factors, eating well, and exercising regularly. Learning how to care for yourself or a child with haemophilia at home can lead to a better quality of life. Preventing injuries and accidents is also an important part of managing haemophilia. In addition, one should know how to recognize bleeding episodes so that if an injury or spontaneous bleeding occurs, one can start treatment immediately.
First Aid is helpful when a bleed occurs in a joint, soft tissue, or muscle. If such a bleed should occur, use R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) as needed to reduce pain and bleeding.
- REST: Avoid using the injured limb. This may mean using crutches or a sling.
- ICE: Never apply ice directly to the skin. Instead, use either crushed ice or a package of frozen vegetables (like peas or corn) wrapped in a moist towel.
- COMPRESSION: Wrap the injured body part with an elastic bandage. Start at the lower part of the limb and work your way up in a criss-cross pattern. Watch for feelings of coolness or numbness, or for any change in the colour of fingers or toes. If any of these symptoms occur, remove the bandage and re-wrap it less tightly.
- ELEVATION: Raise the injured limb above the level of the heart to prevent further swelling.