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Hemophilia is a rare condition that prevents the blood from clotting properly. People who have hemophilia usually bleed longer when they are injured, and they may develop internal bleeding, which can become life-threatening.

Hemophilia symptoms

The main symptom of hemophilia is excessive bleeding, with the following signs:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding from the mouth or gums from a bite or loss of a tooth
  • Prolonged bleeding from a minor cut
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Bleeding into joints and muscles
  • Easy bruising

Bleeding into the joints is usually described as increased warmth, pain, redness or swelling. It may also cause you to not be able to move the joint and can lead to severe arthritis and immobility.

Signs of internal bleeding

Internal bleeding, especially in the brain or abdomen, can become life threatening. Some signs of internal bleeding include the following:

  • Pain, tightness, swelling or increased warmth in the joints
  • Severe, long-lasting headaches
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stool

Hemophilia risk factors

Hemophilia is usually inherited — passed from mother to son — but can occur without a family history. Risk factors include the following:

  • Family history of bleeding or hemophilia
  • Being male

If left untreated, hemophilia can lead to dangerous complications:

  • Chronic joint pain and disease (arthritis)
  • Seizures and paralysis
  • Death, if bleeding cannot be stopped or goes unnoticed

How can I get help for hemophilia?

Doctors often detect hemophilia in newborns. If you show signs or have a family history of hemophilia, your doctor can test your blood for the following characteristics:

  • How long it takes the blood to clot
  • Whether you have low levels of clotting factors