The type of treatment depends on the type of hemophilia you have, how severe the hemophilia is, your daily activities, and any dental or medical procedures you may be having.
The main treatment for hemophilia is clotting factor replacement therapy. Clotting factor VIII or IX is infused into a vein. These clotting factors can be made from human blood that is screened and treated to prevent viral infections. With current technology, the risk of getting an infectious disease from human clotting factors is very small. Clotting factors can also be made in a lab instead of human blood; these are called recombinant clotting factors.
Replacement therapy may be given as prophylaxis, which means giving it on a regular basis to prevent bleeding, or on demand, only when an episode of bleeding occurs.
Problems that can come with factor replacement therapy include:
- damage to joints, muscles, or other parts of the body because of a delay in treatment
- developing antibodies that attack the clotting factor
- developing viral infections from clotting factors made from human blood
Very rarely, the body may form antibodies that attack the clotting factor replacement and prevent treatment from working. These antibodies are also called inhibitors. In hemophilia A, antibodies may develop in about 20% of people. In hemophilia B, antibodies may develop in about 1% of people. They are more common in people with severe hemophilia. Doctors may use a higher dose of factor replacement therapy in this case.
Other treatments for hemophilia include:
- desmopressin (DDAVP): Desmopressin is a man-made hormone used to treat mild bleeds in those with hemophilia A. It causes the body to release more factor VIII and von Willebrand factor. Von Willebrand factor helps keep factor VIII in the bloodstream longer. It can be given as an injection or as a nasal spray. It is given only in certain situations, because its effects may wear off if it is given too often.
- tranexamic acid: Tranexamic acid belongs to a class of medications called antifibrinolytics which stop blood clots from breaking down. It may be used with factor replacement therapy as a pill or infused into a vein. It is usually used before dental work or to treat bleeding from the mouth.
- gene therapy: Researchers are trying to find ways to correct the abnormal genes that cause hemophilia. Gene therapy is not commonly used yet, as more research is needed.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
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