Genetic Disorders

A closer look at the types, symptoms and causes of Von Willebrand disease

A lifelong bleeding disorder, Von Willebrand disease is a medical condition that is inherited from a parent. A faulty gene leads to such a medical condition. Although there is no cure for the condition, there are treatments that can make the symptoms milder.

Let’s take a closer look at the types, symptoms, and causes of Von Willebrand disease.

Types of Von Willebrand disease
There are several types of Von Willebrand disease, and these include the following:

  • Type 1: Type 1 is the most common one, and the person experiencing type 1 Von Willebrand Disease has mild symptoms. In this case, the levels of factor VIII are low.
  • Type 2: Type 2 has several other subtypes, and the symptoms for this type are more significant. The Von Willebrand factor that the person has does not function right in this case.
  • Type 3: This is a rare type. In this case, the levels of factor VIII are less, and the Von Willebrand factor is absent. The symptoms of type 3 of the condition are severe and include constant bleeding and pain in the muscles and joints.

Acquired Von Willebrand disease
This is the type that is not inherited from the parents. The condition develops at a later stage in life.

Signs and symptoms of Von Willebrand disease
Since the symptoms of the Von Willebrand disease are absent or mild, people suffering from this disease may not be able to spot it. However, one of the most common symptoms of this condition is abnormal bleeding. Although the person having this condition may experience continuous bleeding, the severity or intensity of the same may vary from person to person.

Some of the other signs and symptoms that people with Von Willebrand disease may experience are as follows:

  • Nosebleeds that last for more than 10 minutes
  • Blood in the stool or urine
  • Long and heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Extreme bleeding from an injury
  • Excessive bleeding post dental work or surgery
  • Lumpy bruises
  • Easy bruising

As mentioned earlier, women may experience heavy bleeding during menstruation as one of the signs and symptoms of Von Willebrand disease. Apart from the heavy bleeding, some of the other signs in women during menstruation that may hint at the medical condition are as follows:

  • Need for double sanitary protection for controlling the menstrual flow
  • Presence of blood clot, which is greater than an inch, in the menstrual flow
  • Frequent change of tampons or sanitary pads than usual
  • Signs of fatigue, experiencing shortness of breath, and anemia
  • A feeling of tiredness

Moreover, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately if the menstrual flow is extremely heavier than usual or if one is experiencing longer bleeding.

Causes of the Von Willebrand disease
The inheritance of an abnormal gene that controls the Von Willebrand factor is the usual cause of the disease. The Von Willebrand factor is the protein that has a key role to play in blood clotting. So, if the levels of this protein are low or absent, platelets find themselves unable to stick together to the walls of blood vessels, leading to an interference with the entire process of blood clotting, which causes uncontrolled bleeding.

It has been seen in many cases that people with a low Von Willebrand factor also have low factor VIII levels, which is again responsible for excessive bleeding.