Many Women May Be Unaware They Have a Bleeding Disorder

 
 

Social services have been called on Kari Peepe when she and her daughter were spotted covered with bruises. Of course her husband was mortified. Fortunately, Kari could quickly produce her and her daughter’s medical history showing they have a platelet storage pooling disorder. It’s a chronic blood disorder that results in bruising at the slight touch.

Bleeding disorders are rather rare. Among the most familiar is hemophilia, a genetic bleeding disorder that prevents the blood from clotting normally. It is one of many different types of bleeding disorders. Men tend to have hemophilia more so than women. The more common bleeding disorder in women is von Willebrand disease (VWD).

It is quite possible to have a bleeding disorder and not know it. According to the Centers of Disease Control, as many as 1 percent of women in the United States may have a bleeding disorder and be unaware of their condition. You might just shrug off the constant bruising due to clumsiness. Many women go undiagnosed until they have children. Such was the case for Kari Peepe.

“I have had bruises my whole life,” said Kari, “I had black eyes all the time, my arms and legs were covered.”

When she was young, Kari was tested for hemophilia but didn’t have it. There were no tests for her rare blood disorder back then. The response at school was to pull her from gymnastics and other sports due to her constant bruises. During her first pregnancy, Kari was constantly worried. She hemoragged excessively post partum. Physicians ran a lot of tests but it wasn’t until two years later, when she was pregnant with her second child that they finally diagnosed her condition as a platelet disorder. Kari was 35 years old.

SYMPTOMS OF A BLEEDING DISORDER

One or more of these symptoms may reflect the existance of a bleeding disorder.

  • Excessive bruising
  • Prolonged, heavy menstrual periods (menorrhagia)
  • Unexplained nosebleeds
  • Extended bleeding after minor cuts, blood draws, vaccinations, minor surgery or dental procedures

Treatments vary depending on the type of disorder. There are clotting factor concentrates that can be used to prevent or treat bleeds, topical products, nasal sprays and fresh frozen plasma, which is administered in a hospital setting.

LIVING WITH A BLEEDING DISORDER

Kari’s son, Walker, does not have the disorder but her daughter, Scarlett who just turned 6 year sold, does. Managing her own and her daughter’s disorder is a full-time job. Kari must delicately balance her daughter’s needs for independence while also keeping her safe.

Children are by nature clumsy making it difficult to avoid bumping into things, especially as they are learning to walk. It requires constant supervision and evaluation. For Scarlett that means her sports and crawling around on playground equipment is done only under her mother’s watchful eye.

“When Scarlett goes down a slide, she bruises instantly,” explained Kari.

Both mother and daughter have medical information about their disorder with them at all times. To learn more about Kari and Scarlett’s journey, read Kari’s blog.

Also know that bleeding disorders can vary greatly from mild to severe. Still if you suspect that your bruising is out proportion to the cause or your menstrual periods are heavier than normal, it’s best to get it checked out. “Follow your intuition,” recommended Kari, “I’ve been telling doctors for the longest time that something is wrong with me.”

For more information on bleeding disorders, go to the National Hemophilia Foundation website.