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Hemophilia A

What Is Hemophilia A?

When you have hemophilia, your blood doesn't clot normally. That means your body has problems stopping bleeding, both outside and inside your body.

The good news is that it can be treated, and in some cases you can give yourself the treatment at home. You can lead a full life when you have the right treatment plan in place.

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There are different types of hemophilia. With hemophilia A, your body doesn’t have enough of a protein called factor VIII, which your body needs to make clots and stop bleeding.

Hemophilia A can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how little you have of factor VIII.

Hemophilia A runs in families. It's usually diagnosed in babies, toddlers, or young children.

Causes

Hemophilia A comes from your genes. You can inherit it from your parents. Or it can happen if a certain gene changes before you're born. This change is called a mutation.

Symptoms

The main symptoms you might notice are bleeding more than normal and bruising easily. For instance:

  • Nosebleeds for no apparent reason
  • Heavy bleeding from small injuries
  • Heavy long-term bleeding in the mouth after a tooth is removed
  • Bleeding from a cut or injury that starts up again after stopping
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Large bruises

If you have bleeding in a muscle or joint, it may be painful to move it. You may have swelling, and the area may feel hot to the touch.

Bleeding can also happen in the brain. If you have a head bump -- even if it's minor -- and you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor:

  • A headache
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Throwing up
  • Sleepiness
  • Sudden weakness or problems walking

Getting a Diagnosis

Does your child bruise easily, or bleed for longer than normal from small injuries? Make an appointment with your child’s doctor. They can check to see if it's hemophilia.

It's unusual for a baby younger than 6 months old to be diagnosed with hemophilia. That’s because infants this young usually don’t do things that would make them bleed.

Once a baby starts moving, crawling, and bumping into things, you may notice raised bruises, especially on places like the stomach, chest, back, and bottom.

The doctor may ask:

  • What are you concerned about and why?
  • What happened to cause the bumps, bruises, and bleeding?
  • How long did the bleeding last?
  • Is your child taking any medications?
  • Are there any other medical concerns you have?
  • What’s your family's medical history? Does anyone have a problem with blood clotting?

The doctor may also do blood tests, including:  

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time (PTT). Both of these tests check how long it takes blood to clot.
  • Factor VIII and factor IX tests, which measure levels of each of those proteins. Factor VIII is for hemophilia A. Factor IX is for hemophilia B, another type of hemophilia.

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