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 of clotting factor. If the level is low, then more tests will find out the type of hemophilia and how severe it is.
How severe the disease is depends on how much clotting factor is produced and when bleeding most often occurs.
- Mild hemophilia: Clotting factor level is at least 5% of normal. This type might not be noticed unless there is a lot of bleeding after a major injury or surgery.
- Moderate hemophilia: Clotting factor level is 1% to 5% of normal. Bleeding normally follows a fall, sprain, or strain.
- Severe hemophilia: Clotting factor level is less than 1% of normal. Bleeding often happens one or more times a week for no reason.
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.
- Learn how to recognize bleeding episodes so you can start treatment right away.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Additional stress on joints can trigger bleeding episodes.
- Exercise with care. Choose activities, such as swimming, that do not put too much pressure on your joints.
- Don't take nonprescription medicines unless your doctor tells you to. And don't take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These can affect the clotting action of your blood.
- Prevent injuries and accidents around your home.