What is hemophilia?
In hemophilia, blood does not clot properly. This usually happens because your body does not have enough of a certain kind of clotting factor. This makes it harder for bleeding to stop. People with hemophilia may bleed a lot after cuts, during surgery, or even after a fall. Some people have abnormal bleeding inside their bodies for no clear reason.
are two main types of hemophilia:
Hemophilia usually runs in families and almost always affects males. In rare cases, a person may get a type
that does not run in the family. This is called acquired hemophilia, and it affects both males and females.
What causes hemophilia?
Hemophilia A and B are caused by a flaw in a pair of
chromosomes. This flaw affects how much clotting
factor a person has and how well it works.
With acquired hemophilia, clotting
factors don't work right because the body makes antibodies that attack
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of hemophilia include:
Some people with milder types of the
disease may not have symptoms until later in life. But most of the time, hemophilia symptoms are
noticed during infancy or childhood. Symptoms
noticed in infants include:
How is hemophilia diagnosed?
If your doctor thinks that you or your child may have a problem with blood clotting, he or she will take a blood sample. The sample will be used in tests that check for the amount clotting factor, the type of hemophilia, and how severe the disease is.
How severe the disease is depends on how much clotting
factor is produced and when bleeding most often occurs.
If hemophilia runs in your family and you are planning to have children, ask your doctor about tests that can show if you are a carrier. (Only females can be
carriers.) This will allow you to make informed decisions about pregnancy and prenatal care.
How is it treated?
Hemophilia can be
treated by replacing missing blood clotting factors. This is called clotting factor replacement therapy. Clotting factor concentrate is injected into a vein. Replacement therapy can prevent or treat bleeding episodes.
You may need to take medicines, such as desmopressin (for example, DDAVP or Stimate), that help prevent bleeding. You might take medicines at certain times, such as before you have surgery or dental work. Some people also need pain medicine to help with pain from joint damage.
You can live a normal life with treatment. Hemophilia treatment centers
are available at most large medical centers. They are an excellent resource to
help you and your family get the best care for this condition.
What can you do at home?
You can take steps at home
to prevent bleeding episodes and improve your health.
Learning about hemophilia:
Living with hemophilia:
This CDC website has information about hemophilia. This includes information on treatment, blood safety, and inhibitors. You can access free educational materials and videos. There is information on living well, finding medical care, finding a support network, and preparing for an emergency. The website also helps you find the hemophilia treatment center that is closest to you.
The Genetics Home Reference provides information on hundreds of genetic conditions. The website has many tools for learning about human genetics and the way genetic changes can cause
disease. It also has links to additional resources for people who
have genetic conditions and for their families.
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing
The National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) is dedicated to the cures
of inherited bleeding disorders and the prevention and treatment of their
complications through education, advocacy, and research. The NHF has chapters
throughout the country and a communications network that brings health
professionals and the public the latest news about bleeding disorders. NHF's
Web site provides information on the nature, symptoms, and treatments of many
The World Federation of Hemophilia works to introduce, improve,
and maintain care for people with hemophilia and related bleeding disorders
around the world. The WFH provides various health care development programs and
publications. The Web site provides general information on the disease, as well
as research updates. Links to other organizations and further research
resources are also listed.
CitationsChitlur M, Kulkarni R (2011). Hemophilia and related bleeding disorders. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 428–434. Philadelphia: Saunders.Other Works ConsultedChitlur M, Kulkarni R (2011). Hemophilia and related bleeding disorders. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 428–434. Philadelphia: Saunders.Friedman KD, Rodgers GM (2009). Inherited coagulation disorders. In JP Greer et al., eds., Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology, 12th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1379–1424. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Hillman RS, et al. (2011). Hemophilia and other intrinsic pathway defects. In RS Hillman et al., eds., Hematology in Clinical Practice, 5th ed., pp. 398–410. New York: McGraw-Hill.Roberts HR, et al. (2010). Hemophilia A and hemophilia B. In K Kaushansky et al., eds., Williams Hematology, 8th ed., pp. 2009–2029. New York: McGraw-Hill.World Federation of Hemophilia (2005). Guidelines for the management of hemophilia. Available online: http://www.wfh.org.
August 3, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.