Blood Conditions

Understanding hemophilia and its treatments

Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder that people most commonly inherited from their parents’ mutated gene at the time of their birth. This disorder causes disability in the blood that prevents the blood from clotting when needed, which subsequently leads to excessive bleeding. Essentially, there are two kinds of hemophilia that are characterized as hemophilia A and hemophilia B.

To understand these kinds better, one should know how the blood forms a clot. There are multiple clotting factors present in the blood that come together to form a blood clot. When either one of the factors is missing from the blood, it becomes a disorder known as hemophilia. With regard to the kind of hemophilia, hemophilia A is caused when factor VIII is missing from the blood, and hemophilia B occurs when factor IX is missing from the blood.

Managing hemophilia for a better quality of life
While hemophilia means disability of the blood from clotting, it does not mean that a person will bleed to death if they are suffering from the disorder. However, it does have an impact on the time it takes for the bleeding to stop. However, in hemophilia, internal bleeding is a bigger concern than external bleeding and needs immediate medical intervention.

One of the most important factors of managing hemophilia includes treatment. The treatment of hemophilia includes factor replacement as it is the most basic treatment. This treatment involves infusion of the blood clotting factor that a patient is lacking. However, doctors don’t always recommend this therapy as a means of treatment. In some cases of severe hemophilia, doctors infuse a factor to prevent a bleeding episode. Therefore, factor replacement therapy is not a permanent treatment measure. Moreover, the infused clotting factor leaves a person’s body within 2-3 days. Therefore, there is a need for regular and continuous treatment in case this way is chosen.

Treatment approach
As everybody or each patient is different, the frequency of a treatment and its approach can also differ depending on the decision they make with their healthcare team. Below mentioned are the two approaches:

  • On-demand therapy: In this approach, the infusions are given to the patient the minute they face any bleeding in order to control the bleeding. This is also how internal joint bleeding and muscle bleeding are treated. In most cases, one infusion is enough. However, the treatment is given for a few days to control the bleeding completely. Also, in cases of severe bleeding, a patient might need 2 -3 infusions a day for almost two weeks.
  • Prophylaxis or preventive therapy: In this approach, the infusions are given at least once a week to prevent bleeding. Usually, children with hemophilia receive this therapy to prevent bleeding from taking place at all.

Apart from these approaches, doctors also use some medications based on natural hormones called vasopressin. The medication also works the same way as infusions minus the risk.

Furthermore, most patients or their family members prefer to choose to infuse factor treatment on their own as that allows them to not depend on the availability of a medical center. However, it is important to understand that professional medical intervention is essential in cases of serious bleeding.