What Is Hemophilia And What Challenges These Patients Face During COVID-19 Pandemic?

Doctors say that need for early diagnosis, access to proper treatment and physiotherapy is extremely crucial for people with the disease to lead a near-normal life.

Hemophilia is a hereditary genetic disorder that damages the blood clotting ability of the body. The one having the disease will not necessarily bleed faster than a normal individual but can do so for a longer time. This is because the blood of such persons doesn’t have enough clotting factors. Clotting factors are protein necessary to control bleeding. This is a serious disorder and can put the life of a person in danger due to excessive bleeding.

At a time when the world is grappling with some of the unprecedented challenges posed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This forced healthcare providers to shift their resources and infrastructure towards managing coronavirus positive patients. This resulted in less emphasis on non-COVID patients such as Hemophilia patients. The fact that there is very little awareness of the disease makes its patients more vulnerable. On top of that, the lack of accessibility to specialists makes the situation even worse.

According to doctors, these patients are having a tough time finding proper treatment. Even if all the facilities required for the treatment is available, such patients avoid visiting hospitals out of fear of contracting the COVID-19 disease because they are part of the vulnerable category. Doctors say that need for early diagnosis, access to proper treatment and physiotherapy is extremely crucial for people with the disease to lead a near-normal life.

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According to Dr Shubha Phadke, MD [Paediatrics], DM [Medical Genetics] and Professor & Head of Department of Medical Genetics, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, the number of hemophilia patients visiting hospital has dropped significantly during the coronavirus outbreak.

“With the support of social workers and senior doctors, we are providing services even during COVID 19 times. Some serious bleeds are managed by indoor admissions. Many patients have learned self-infusions. But corona times reiterates the need for prophylaxis or at least on demand home therapy. I advise patients to save joints from bleeding and at the same time save yourself from corona,” Dr Phadke said.

Dr Nita Radhakrishnan, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatric Hematology Oncology, Super Speciality Pediatric Hospital and PG Teaching Institute, Noida, said because of the coronavirus pandemic, many centres providing treatment to hemophilia has been shut because of the global pandemic.

“I advise Hemophilia patients to be in touch with their treatment center so that all bleeding episodes can be managed judiciously and advice regarding preventing COVID infection also be provided. It is a difficult time which can be overcome with the cooperation of all the stakeholders,” Dr Nita said.

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Types Of Hemophilia

There are usually two types of hemophilia. The first one is known as Hemophilia A and the other is called Hemophilia B. The first one is the most common type. In this case, the person doesn’t have not have enough clotting factor VIII or factor eight. Hemophilia B is not very common and in this case, person doesn’t have enough factor IX or factor nine. They both affect the human body in a similar way.

Symptoms

– Prolonged bleeding after removing a tooth or after getting a cut
– Big Bruises
– Bleeding into a joint or muscle causing swelling

Treatment

Treatment of Hemophilia is done by injecting missing clotting factors into the bloodstream using a needle. Once enough clotting factor reaches the spot, it stops bleeding. Bleeding should be treated as soon as possible. Speedy treatment will help reduce damage to the joints, organs, and muscles. It will also reduce suffering. If bleeding is treated quickly, less blood product is needed to stop the bleeding.

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