What is hemophilia?
Hemophilia is an inherited disorder in which your blood doesn't clot How Blood Clots A blood clot is a clump of material that your body makes to plug up a bleeding blood vessel. Blood clots look like dark purple jelly. Clots are made up of things in your bloodstream: Platelets... read more normally.
Hemophilia makes you bleed a lot from small injuries or even without an injury
Almost everyone with hemophilia is male
Boys inherit hemophilia from their mother
People with hemophilia can't make enough of a clotting factor (proteins that help blood to clot)
Doctors diagnose hemophilia with a blood test
You may need injections of a clotting factor in your veins (IV)
What causes hemophilia?
Clotting factors are proteins in your blood that help make blood clots. Blood clots plug up bleeding blood vessels. There are over a dozen different clotting factors.
In hemophilia, you inherit an abnormal gene so you don't make enough of one of the clotting factors
There are 2 types of hemophilia, A and B, depending on which clotting factor is decreased
The abnormal genes that cause hemophilia are passed down from your mother (sex-linked X-Linked Inheritance Genes are segments of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that contain the code for a specific protein that functions in one or more types of cells in the body. Chromosomes are made of a very long strand... read more ).
Hemophilia isn't equally severe in everyone who has it. Some people make very little of the affected clotting factor. Other people make some of the clotting factor but not quite enough. The less clotting factor you have the more severe your tendency to bleed.
What are the symptoms of hemophilia?
The main symptom of hemophilia is:
Excessive bleeding Bruising and Bleeding Bruising or bleeding after an injury is normal. However, some people have blood clotting disorders that cause them to bruise or bleed too easily, such as after very minor injuries or even no... read more and bruising Bruising and Bleeding Bruising or bleeding after an injury is normal. However, some people have blood clotting disorders that cause them to bruise or bleed too easily, such as after very minor injuries or even no... read more
You may bleed from the outside, like from a cut or from your nose. Or you may bleed on the inside. For example, if you twist your knee or bang your leg, it may swell up with blood.
Because people who have hemophilia are born with it, blood clotting problems usually show up in young children unless the problem is very mild.
How much you bleed depends on how severe your hemophilia is.
If you have mild hemophilia, you may:
Bleed more than usual, but only after surgery, dental work, or an injury
Never be diagnosed
If you have moderate hemophilia, you may:
Sometimes bleed without any apparent injury
During surgery or after an injury, have heavy bleeding that's hard to control and can cause death
If you have severe hemophilia, you may:
Often have serious bleeding after a minor injury or for no clear reason
Have your tongue swell up from bleeding inside the tongue muscle, which can cut off your air
Have major bleeding in your brain from a slight bump to the head, causing brain damage or death
Bleeding inside the same joint can cause crippling joint damage.
How can doctors tell if I have hemophilia?
Doctors suspect hemophilia in a child (especially a boy) who bleeds a lot and bruises easily, especially if the child has family members with hemophilia.
To diagnose hemophilia, doctors do blood tests to see if your blood clots at a normal rate and whether there are enough clotting factors.
Genetic testing can show if a woman is a carrier of the abnormal genes that cause hemophilia. Pregnant women with these genes can have their baby tested during pregnancy.
How do doctors treat hemophilia?
If you have hemophilia, doctors may:
Do transfusions of clotting factor to help your blood to clot
Have you take medicine to lessen bleeding
Doctors will also tell you to:
Avoid situations that might cause you to be injured and bleed
Avoid medicines, such as aspirin, that can make bleeding worse
Take good care of your teeth and mouth so you won't need to have teeth pulled