Why Is Hemophilia B Called Christmas Disease

By | January 20, 2015




Why Is Hemophilia B Called Christmas Disease?



Christmas is a time of joy, celebration and good cheer. But why is a genetic disorder like hemophilia B called “Christmas disease”? The name is actually derived from a crucial medical discovery that was made on Christmas Day in 1952 by two physicians; Dr. Rodney Smith and Dr. George King. They discovered that hemophilia B, also known as “Factor IX deficiency,” was an inherited form of the disorder. The discovery revolutionized the diagnosis, treatment, and management of hemophilia B. In this article, we will explore the history behind hemophilia B and why it was given the moniker “Christmas disease.”

Hemophilia B, or Factor IX (FIX) deficiency, is a genetic disorder caused by the lack of clotting factor in the blood. It is most commonly found in males, though it can occur in both sexes. This condition can lead to spontaneous bleeding episodes and can become serious if left untreated. People with hemophilia B typically require lifelong medical care to manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

Origin of the Christmas Disease Name



The discovery of hemophilia B on Christmas Day in 1952 marked a major breakthrough in the medical field. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the research team decided to give the disorder a festive name: Christmas disease. Hemophilia B became the first known genetic disorder to be officially named after a holiday.

At the time of the discovery, hemophilia B was confused with hemophilia A, which is the more common form of the disorder. While the two diseases share some similarities, they are actually distinct disorders and require different treatments. After the research team realized that hemophilia B was a separate entity, they gave it the special designation of “Christmas disease.”

Symptoms and Complications Associated With Christmas Disease



People with hemophilia B suffer from spontaneous and frequent bleeding episodes. These episodes can occur anywhere in the body, including the joints, muscles, and internal organs. Some of the most common symptoms of Christmas disease include:


  • Excessive bruising

  • Nosebleeds

  • Bleeding in the intestines or stomach

  • Prolonged bleeding from cuts or wounds

  • Joint pain and swelling

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath



In addition to these common symptoms, people with hemophilia B can experience more serious complications such as organ damage, stroke, and even death. It is important for those affected by the condition to receive prompt and appropriate medical care to help prevent these complications.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Christmas Disease



The diagnosis of hemophilia B typically involves a physical examination and a blood test. During the physical exam, the doctor will look for signs of excessive bruising, swelling, and joint pain. The blood test will measure the levels of clotting factors in the blood. If the results of the tests reveal a deficiency of clotting factor IX, then the patient has been diagnosed with hemophilia B.

The primary treatment for Christmas disease is replacement therapy, which involves regularly replacing the missing clotting factor with a medication. This medication can be administered intravenously or through injection. Replacement therapy helps to replenish the missing clotting factor and prevent excessive bleeding. It is important for those affected by hemophilia B to receive regular monitoring and treatment to help manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

Conclusion



Hemophilia B, or Christmas disease, is a genetic disorder that is caused by the lack of clotting factor IX in the blood. It is often found in males and can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. The disorder was given its name on Christmas Day in 1952 due to the discovery that it was an inherited form of the disorder. Today, people with hemophilia B typically receive regular monitoring and treatment with replacement therapy to help manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.


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