How do you know if you have Hemophilia? Is there a test that can be given to people to determine if they have it?
If you’re an adolescent or adult, it’s highly unlikely, though not impossible, that you would have hemophilia and not know about it by now.
Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder in which the body produces insufficient amounts of one of the clotting factors in blood. The most common forms of hemophilia are passed down through the mother. Women, however, almost never get hemophilia; they simply carry the defective genes. If the mother is only a carrier of hemophilia, then there’s a 50/50 chance with each birth that she will pass the gene on to her children.
Therefore, the first two factors to consider are your gender and your family history. The hemophilia gene can be passed down through generations of women who don’t have the disease. But most of the time, families are aware of the condition because there’s a close male relative on the mother’s side who has had the disease in recent years. About a third of hemophiliacs have no family history. In these cases, it’s believed that there’s a genetic mutation in the mother which forms the defective gene that’s passed on to the baby.
The other clear indicators for hemophilia are the symptoms — bruising and internal or external bleeding that doesn’t stop of its own accord. People with severe hemophilia sometimes start bleeding without any provocation or injury. But even in mild cases of hemophilia, where there’s little noticeable bruising and no spontaneous bleeding, the disease is usually diagnosed by early childhood.
There is a test to confirm diagnosis which measures the clotting factors in the blood. Because it’s a blood test, it must be performed with extreme caution, preferably in a hospital environment by medical personnel who are experienced with the disease. There are also tests and evaluation methods that can usually determine if a woman is a hemophilia carrier.
Another bleeding disorder, von Willebrand’s disease, strikes both men and women equally and is actually more common than hemophilia. This disease is also inherited and tends to be somewhat less severe, so it sometimes goes undetected through adolescence and even into adulthood. As with hemophilia, there are blood tests to diagnosis von Willebrand’s disease.