& Treatment

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This website is intended for carers and patients living with haemophilia.

Haemophilia and Treatment

How to recognise a bleed in inherited Haemophilia

If you have haemophilia, or you look after someone with the condition, it is important that you are able to recognise different sorts of bleed and understand the best way to manage them.

External bleeding from minor cuts and grazes does not normally cause a problem.

The main difficulty for people with haemophilia is internal bleeding into the joints, muscles and soft tissues, causing them to become inflamed, swollen and painful. Repeated bleeds can lead to long-term damage, particularly to the joints.

In people with severe haemophilia, internal bleeding can happen after a relatively trivial injury or strain, and it can sometimes happen spontaneously - that is, without any obvious reason such as a bump or a fall.

Bleeds should be treated quickly to prevent long-term damage. If you are used to home infusion, follow the doctor’s instructions on treating a bleed and then consider contacting your Haemophilia Centre for further advice. If there is swelling or discomfort, wrap a bag of frozen vegetables or some ice cubes in a towel and apply to the area. Never give anyone with haemophilia any medicine that contains aspirin, as aspirin slows down the blood clotting.

Head bleeds should always be taken seriously and checked by a doctor. Also, any bleeding from the mouth is harder to deal with and should be treated at the Haemophilia Centre. A bleed around the face, neck or throat must be treated as an emergency and treated immediately by either parents or the Haemophilia Centre.

Internal bleeds may not be obvious, but you will learn to recognise the signs:

  • A joint bleed often begins with pain or a “funny feeling” in the affected area
  • The area around the joint/muscle may feel tight, warm or swollen and the limb is often painful, stiff or difficult to extend
  • The limbs may be unequal in appearance
  • In a young child look out for crying for no apparent reason and hampered mobility, or in older children look out for uncharacteristic quietness
  • Red or brown urine may be a sign of urinary tract bleeds
  • Bloody or black tar like motions (except in new born babies) may be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding

The commonest sites for joint bleeds are: Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, Hip, Knee and Ankle.

Watch our clip below to see what happens when someone with haemophilia experiences a joint bleed.