Bleeding disorders

Definition

Bleeding disorders are a group of conditions in which there is a problem with the body's blood clotting process. These disorders can lead to heavy and prolonged bleeding after an injury. Bleeding can also begin on its own.

Related problems include:

Causes


Normal blood clotting involves as many as 20 different plasma proteins. These are known as blood clotting or coagulation factors. These factors interact with other chemicals to form a substance called fibrin that stops bleeding.

Problems can occur when certain coagulation factors are low or missing. Bleeding problems can range from mild to severe.

Some bleeding disorders are present at birth and are passed through families (inherited). Others develop from:

Bleeding disorders can also result from a problem with the number or function of the blood cells that promote blood clotting (platelets). These disorders can also be either inherited or develop later (acquired). The side effects of certain drugs often lead to the acquired forms.

Symptoms

The type of problems that occur depend on the specific bleeding disorder, and how severe it is.

Exams and Tests

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of disorder. It may include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome also depends on the disorder. Most primary bleeding disorders can be managed. When the disorders is due to diseases, such as DIC, the outcome will depend on how well the underlying disease can be treated.

Possible Complications

Other complications can occur, depending on the disorder.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you notice any unusual or severe bleeding.

Prevention

Prevention depends on the specific disorder.


Review Date: 3/3/2013
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.