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Hemophilia: Preventing Bleeding Episodes

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How can I care for myself?

If you have hemophilia, you can take steps at home to prevent bleeding episodes and improve your health.

  • Recognize bleeding symptoms.
  • Be active, but exercise with care.
  • Don't take nonprescription medicines unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Prevent injuries and accidents around your home.

Recognize bleeding symptoms

Many people who have hemophilia know when they are bleeding even before there are many symptoms.

Bleeding in a joint

Bleeding into a joint (hemarthrosis), often without an injury, is the most common bleeding problem in people who have severe hemophilia. Bleeding usually occurs in one joint at a time. Bleeding may occur in any joint, but knees, elbows, and ankles are most commonly affected. Sometimes one particular joint, called a target joint, will tend to bleed most often.

Symptoms of bleeding into a joint include:

  • Warmth or tingling in the joint during the early stages of hemarthrosis. This is called an aura. If bleeding is not treated, mild discomfort can progress to severe pain.
  • Swelling and inflammation in the joint, caused by repeated episodes of bleeding. If episodes continue, the swelling may lead to chronic pain and destruction of the joint.
  • An infant or child not wanting to move an arm or leg because of bleeding into an affected joint. This is often first noticed when a child begins to walk.

Bleeding in a muscle

Another common symptom of hemophilia is bleeding into a muscle (hematoma), which can be mild or severe. There are many possible symptoms of bleeding into muscle, including:

  • Bruising.
  • Swelling.
  • Muscle hardening.
  • Tenderness.
  • Pain, especially when large muscle groups are affected.

It is important to begin infusion with clotting factors as soon as possible after a bleeding episode has started, before any physical signs develop. Even with treatment, bleeding is sometimes hard to control. Frequent bleeding episodes or a serious injury can lead to complications and excessive blood loss.

Work with your doctor to make a plan for what to do if you or your child has a bleed.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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