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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Treating haemophilia

Te whakarauora i te matenga toto tepe-kore

Picture of woman with bleeding noseIf you have haemophilia, the aim of the treatment is to reduce your risk of prolonged bleeding. Bleeding can be controlled by injections of a clotting factor medicine.

Clotting factor medicines are very concentrated and designed to control bleeding.

You need to be treated as soon as possible to stop the bleeding and prevent long-term damage.

Most clotting factor medicines are made using genetic engineering to create artificial products that contain no human blood components. But some bleeding disorders need medication made from donated human blood.

There are two main approaches to treatment, depending on how severe your condition is.

Preventative therapy

People with severe haemophilia need preventative treatment (prophylaxis). You get regular injections of clotting factor medicine to help prevent episodes of bleeding and prevent joint and muscle damage.

Preventative therapy aims to keep the levels of clotting factor in your blood high enough that clots can form easily if a bleed occurs. Preventative therapy gives children with severe haemophilia the best chance to grow up without damage to their joints.

On-demand therapy

In mild or moderate cases, treatment for haemophilia may only be necessary if you're bleeding. It's essential to get treatment early so there is less chance of long-term damage and disruption to daily life.

If you're treating a bleed, you should:

Managing pain

You'll need treatment to manage pain, as swelling caused by bleeds, especially in the joints, can be extremely painful. You need to avoid aspirin and most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen as they suppress platelet function and reduce blood clotting. Talk to your general practice team or pharmacist before trying any pain medication to discuss possible side effects.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy after a bleed helps with recovery from internal bleeding that may have damaged your joints. Your physiotherapist will give you good exercises to get your muscles and joints working again.

Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Last reviewed May 2023.

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Page reference: 696186

Review key: HIBLD-52881