For some, treating hemophilia can be a lifelong process. This genetically-acquired disease cannot be cured, but it can be managed with the help of a specialized hemophilia treatment center (HTC). Since there are various severities, the forms of treatment also differ. The most common form of the illness is Hemophilia A and here we’ll take a close look at the treatments recommended and lifestyle changes that a person with suffering from this illness should follow.
Hemophilia A is caused by the deficiency of factor VIII, one of the 13 “clotting factors” in the body. The avenues of treatment are:
This sort of treatment requires replacing the missing clotting factor VIII. This factor can be gotten from blood donations and also can be synthetically made in a lab. The frequency of receiving this therapy will depend on the severity of the illness. A mild form will need this treatment only after a bleeding episode or an on-demand treatment; while those with a more severe form might need a frequent infusion of the missing factor. This is to prevent bleeding episodes and is called prophylactic therapy.
There are a few medications that HTCs use to treat Hemophilia A. Mild Hemophilia A can be treated by intravenously administering desmopressin (DDAVP), a synthetic hormone that raises the levels of factor VIII in the blood. Another drug that helps prevent the breakdown of clots that form during a bleeding episode is Antifibrinolytics. This too is used to treat mild forms of Hemophilia A. Fibrin sealants that are also recommended are tissue adhesives that can be applied to wounds to aid in clotting and healing.
Complications arising from treatment
In severe cases of Hemophilia, the joints can start bleeding spontaneously causing swelling and a considerable amount of pain. When this happens the doctor could recommend physical therapy to help deal with the pain and discomfort.
Despite the blood that is used in replacement therapy being screened for viruses like hepatitis and HIV, there is still a small risk of contracting any disease from the blood. It is advisable to be updated vaccines for hepatitis A and B for those suffering from hemophilia.
A percentage of people who receive treatment for severe hemophilia A can develop something called inhibitors against the replacement clotting factors. In this complication, the immune system thinks the replacement clotting factor is an invader and tries to suppress it. In such situations, controlling a bleeding episode is difficult and medicines called “bypassing agents” will need to be used to work around the inhibitors.
Treating hemophilia is not only about taking prophylactic and episodic medications. It also involves a large lifestyle and diet change. These include:
- Having good dental hygiene to avoid dental work.
- Avoiding medicines that can aggravate bleeding
- Including regular exercise in the day’s routine to protect joints
- Exercising regularly to help build up muscles and protect joints, but avoiding contact sports
Eating a well-balanced diet and reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is essential. This can help you decrease the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and even take the load off your joints lessening the chances of strain on your joints.
Include foods like whole (brown) grains, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs, beans, nuts, chicken and turkey. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks like colas and grill, bake or boil rather than fry your food. Ensure you include iron-rich foods like lean red meat, liver, peas, raisins, and sprouts, to help you recover from a bleeding episode should one occur.
Avoid glasses of packaged juice, shortening or lard, candy, foods with trans fats etc.
While there is no fixed diet or treatment that someone with Hemophilia A should follow, having a healthy lifestyle and taking advice and being under the care of licensed medical practitioners can help you treat and manage this illness effectively