Warning: I am going to talk about my medical history. The reason: it’s HHT Awareness Month, and I’ve been negligent about it the last few years.
The alarms rang for me maybe fifteen years ago in California when I saw all the blood in my mouth. My dentist said he saw no reason for it, but he should have: telangiectasias in the mouth are easily seen. He didn’t know, so dismissed it.
Fast forward to 2012 in Indiana. My doctor didn’t know either but did not dismiss it; she sent me to an otolaryngologist, who diagnosed HHT. I learned HHT was likely the reason I hemorrhaged after I had my tonsils out when I was little. Seriously?
Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia is a genetic blood vessel disorder. I got it from Dad. We never knew that all his nosebleeds — and mine — were a symptom of this thing.
HHT causes malformed blood vessels, small and large, which rupture. If nosebleeds are caused by HHT, they are not “just nosebleeds.” Internal bleeding, anemia, other complications, some life-threatening, are possible.
Many foods and medicines have blood-thinning effects, not great if you have HHT. For me, tuna, grapes, cranberries, walnuts, for instance, mean extra kleenex at the ready. Melatonin? No way. NSAIDs? Never.
We knew Dad had ischemic bleeds in his brain, and apparently they are associated with vascular dementia. But I’ve come to wonder if his long history of blood thinners caused hemorrhagic bleeds in his brain also, ganging up on him and contributing to his dementia. Like father, like daughter?
Even doctors and dentists are not aware of HHT. Now, dear reader, you are. I’ve done my small part.