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.
There are two main types of hemophilia:
Hemophilia usually runs in families and almost always affects males.
Hemophilia A and B are caused by changes (mutations) in genes. These changes affect how much clotting factor a person has and how well it works.
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:
Your doctor may ask about your medical history and your family's medical history. You may need to have some tests, such as a blood test or a genetic test.
If your doctor thinks that you may have a problem with blood clotting, your doctor 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.
Bleeding problems might not be noticed unless there is a lot of bleeding after a major injury or surgery.
Bleeding problems are common and often follow a fall, sprain or strain.
Bleeding problems often happen 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.
Hemophilia can be treated by replacing missing blood clotting factors. This can be done with clotting factor replacement therapy. Replacement therapy can prevent or treat bleeding episodes.
You may need to take medicines that help prevent bleeding. You might take medicines at certain times, such as before you have surgery or dental work. Talk to your doctor about what options may be right for you.
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.
You can take steps at home to prevent bleeding episodes and improve your health.
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