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Understanding Hemophilia -- Diagnosis and Treatment

What Are the Treatments for Hemophilia? continued...

If you have a mild form of hemophilia, a medication called desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) can temporarily increase the concentration of factor VIII in your blood. DDAVP can be given intravenously, through an injection, or in the form of nasal spray. Antifibrinolytic medicines such as tranexamic acid and epsilon aminocaproic acid are oral medicines that are sometimes used with replacement therapy to help keep blood clots from breaking down.

Treatment for Joint Bleeding and Other Problems

Other health issues associated with hemophilia may need to be addressed. The most common include:

  • Treating bleeding joints
  • Monitoring physical activities

For bleeding joints, you must get treatment with clotting factor to avoid joint damage. Your doctor may also recommend resting and icing the affected joint to decrease pain and swelling. As pain and swelling subsides, physical therapy may help you recover joint mobility and strength.

Monitoring physical activity may be necessary to prevent injury and internal bleeding. Your doctor will discuss the types of physical activities that are appropriate and what kinds of activities may be too dangerous. Your doctor's advice depends on the severity of hemophilia.

Possible Complications from Hemophilia Treatment

Complications from treatment for hemophilia include:

  • Acquiring a blood-borne disease
  • Changes to the immune system that make the treatment less effective

Acquiring a blood-borne disease: In the past, people receiving clotting factor from donated blood ran the risk of contracting a blood-borne disease. In fact, in the late 1970s and 1980s, many people with hemophilia acquired viruses such as HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and hepatitis. Now, potential blood donors are carefully screened and all donated blood is tested for viruses. Donated blood is also processed to inactivate any unrecognized viruses. The chance of contracting any disease through treatment is extremely low. Still, if you have hemophilia it is important for you to receive immunizations for hepatitis A and B to prevent you from becoming infected with these viruses.

Changes to the immune system: Your immune system may begin to recognize the administered clotting factor as foreign and then destroy it. This makes your treatment ineffective. Your doctor will want to monitor your (or your child's) blood for such a reaction.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 20, 2014
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