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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

Care for hemophilia at Rush

Your care team at Rush specializes in providing comprehensive treatment, including medical, psychosocial and educational services. The goal is to help empower you and your family to manage your care and live a normal life.

The main medical treatment for hemophilia is replacement therapy to infuse the needed clotting factor. Health care providers at Rush can teach you to administer the factor concentrate infusions at home. Depending on your individual condition and symptoms, you will need one of the following:

  • Regular injections (preventive therapy)
  • Injections only when bleeding (demand therapy)

Rush’s multidisciplinary team coordinates a comprehensive treatment plan for patients with hemophilia and related conditions. The following are some of specialized services available at Rush:

  • Physical therapy
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Nutrition planning
  • Genetic counseling
  • Mental health counseling
  • Pharmacy

Why choose Rush for hemophilia care

  • The Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Center, the largest in Illinois, is a designated Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC), part of a national network supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • In the center’s comprehensive clinic, the HTC team meets with each patient for an in-depth review at least once each year. Rush also provides classes on infusion and lifestyle modification.
  • The Rush for Life program provides clotting factor concentrates at low cost, part of a public service program through the Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Center.
  • At Rush, clinical trials help advance treatment therapies for people with hemophilia. This means that medical research at Rush can have a direct impact on your care.

Departments and programs that treat this condition