Hemophilia is a blood disorder that causes blood to have difficulty clotting. This disease causes sufferers to bleed longer than normal people when injured, and this condition certainly requires more intensive medical treatment. What is the treatment for hemophilia?
How is hemophilia treated?
How to treat hemophilia usually depends on the severity of the disease. So, each stage of hemophilia may have different types of treatment.
However, it is important to know that this disease cannot be cured. Treatment is generally only able to reduce symptoms and control or prevent excessive bleeding. Therefore, people living with hemophilia, especially those who are already severe enough, must undergo life-long medication.
According to the site NHS, here are 2 types of approaches to treat the symptoms of hemophilia:
- preventive or prophylactic treatment, when medications are given to prevent bleeding and damage to muscles and joints
- immediate or on-demand treatment, when medication is given to stop bleeding as quickly as possible
1. Preventive or prophylactic medication
Most cases of hemophilia are classified as severe. Therefore, long-term preventive treatment or prophylaxis is very important, even from the time the sufferer is newborn.
Treatment is usually given by injection. If you have a child born with hemophilia, you will be taught how to give injections from the time they are very young. Over time, your child will have to learn how to inject themselves.
The goal of prophylactic treatment is to reduce the risk of sudden or spontaneous bleeding in people with severe hemophilia. That way, you and your child won’t have to go to the hospital often. Prophylactic medication can also help prevent muscle and joint damage.
This treatment generally lasts a lifetime. The drugs used are usually in the form of clotting factor concentrates or artificial clotting particles. Its function is to replace blood clotting factors which are too little in people with hemophilia.
Hemophilia A drugs
Specifically, the drugs given for each type of hemophilia can be different. Preventive treatment for severe hemophilia A uses a drug called octocog alfa.
The drug is a clotting factor VIII replacement concentrate. In people with hemophilia A, the body lacks these blood clotting factors due to a genetic mutation in the F8 gene. Alpha octocog is generally given every 48 hours. However, the dose of drug administration will be adjusted again by the doctor, depending on the patient’s health condition.
Hemophilia B drugs
Slightly different from how to treat the symptoms of hemophilia A, the drug given for hemophilia type B is nonacog alfa. However, it works similarly to the alpha octocog.
Nonacog alfa is a concentrate substitute for clotting factor IX, which is needed by people with hemophilia B with the F9 gene mutation. This drug is also given by injection. Usually, nonacog alfa is injected 2 times a week.
2. Immediate treatment (on-demand)
Immediate or on-demand treatment is usually prescribed for patients with mild and moderate hemophilia. Hemophilia medication is only given when there is bleeding from the wound and aims to stop it as quickly as possible.
Some of the medications that are usually prescribed to treat bleeding in people with hemophilia include:
Desmopressin hormone drug works by encouraging the body to produce more blood clotting factors. This medication is sometimes given before a tooth extraction procedure or other minor surgery to prevent excessive bleeding. However, it is important to remember that the drug desmopressin does not work in people with hemophilia B and hemophilia A who are already severe.
Anti-fibrinolytic drugs are drugs that effectively work to reduce excess bleeding, especially when nosebleeds occur. Usually, antifibrinolytics can be given together with desmopressin or an injection of blood clotting factor concentrate. Currently, the available antifibrinolytic drugs are in the form of aminocaproic and tranexamic acid.
Are there any side effects from hemophilia treatment?
As with drugs in general, drugs given to treat hemophilia symptoms also have the risk of triggering side effects. However, not all people with hemophilia will experience these side effects.
For the octocog alfa drug under the brand name Advate, common side effects are headache and fever. These effects are reported to occur in 1-10 of 100 patients. In addition, this drug also has the potential to trigger allergic reactions in certain people.
Meanwhile, the nonacog alpha drug with the brand name BeneFIX can also cause side effects such as allergic reactions, low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats.
Not only that, the two drugs above are also at risk of triggering complications of hemophilia, which are called inhibitors. Inhibitors occur when hemophilia A and B patients have antibodies that turn against clotting factors in the body. In fact, normal antibodies should only fight infections from outside the body, such as viruses and bacteria.
If an inhibitor occurs, both the octocog alfa and nonacog alfa drugs are no longer able to work, so the bleeding becomes increasingly out of control.
Are there natural or home remedies for hemophilia?
Hemophilia is not a disease that can be completely cured. Patients are also required to take medication for the rest of their life. However, there is nothing wrong with hemophilia sufferers also undergoing medication and a natural lifestyle to maintain their health condition, so that the risk of severe bleeding can be reduced.
Here are some tips and lifestyle changes that can be made as home remedies for hemophilia:
- Exercise regularly, but consult your doctor first
- Avoid certain pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin
- Avoid blood thinners, such as warfarin, heparin, and clopidogrel
- Maintain regular oral and dental hygiene
- Protect yourself or your child from accidents that cause bleeding