Heavy or Prolonged Bleeding

Bleeding disorders are conditions that affect your body's ability to form blood clots. For your blood to clot, your body needs platelets and proteins known as clotting factors. If you don't have enough platelets and clotting factors, or if they don't work correctly, you may experience heavy, prolonged bleeding after an injury. In some cases, bleeding may also occur for no reason. Excessive bleeding can happen both externally and internally.

There are two main causes of bleeding disorders:

  • Acquired bleeding disorders are a side effect of certain medications and illnesses that interrupt or prevent a healthy blood clotting process.
  • Inherited bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand disease, are passed down through your family’s genetic makeup.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The symptoms of bleeding disorders vary according to your specific illness. Common signs may include:

  • Bleeding into muscles or joints
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Heavy, prolonged bleeding
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Unexplained bruising

Your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination and review of your personal and family medical history to diagnose a bleeding disorder.

Specialized bloodwork is often used to complete the diagnosis. Blood tests may include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): measures the different components that make up your blood
  • Partial thromboplastin time (PTT): documents how long it takes your blood to clot
  • Platelet aggregation test: determines how well your platelets clump to form blood clots
  • Prothrombin time (PT): measures how long it takes the liquid portion of your blood, called plasma, to clot.

If left untreated, bleeding disorders can be dangerous and increase the risk of developing serious health challenges after an injury or during menstruation, childbirth or surgery.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Comprehensive, Compassionate Care

Penn State Health provides specialized testing, treatment and management for numerous bleeding disorders, platelet dysfunction and disorders, and rare coagulation factor deficiencies. We are one of only 145 hemophilia centers in the nation and the only facility in central Pennsylvania with advanced expertise in bleeding disorders.

Our unique facilities include:

Our medical team is consistently recognized nationally through Best Doctors in America and America’s Top Doctors awards. Our specialists also participate in worldwide conferences and speaking engagements in countries including India, Korea, Germany, Japan and others.

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