The symptoms of haemophilia vary, depending on how severe the condition is, but the main sign is prolonged bleeding. The bleeding may occur spontaneously or after a medical procedure.
The severity of the condition is determined by the level of clotting factors in the blood:
- mild haemophilia – where someone has between 5 and 50% of the normal amount of clotting factors
- moderate haemophilia – where someone has between 1 and 5% of the normal amount of clotting factors
- severe haemophilia – where someone has less than 1% of the normal amount of clotting factors
Children born with mild haemophilia may not have any symptoms for many years. The condition usually only becomes apparent after a significant wound, surgery, or a dental procedure such as having a tooth removed. These events could cause unusually prolonged bleeding.
As well as the above, children born with moderate haemophilia bruise easily. They may also have symptoms of internal bleeding around their joints, particularly if they have a knock or a fall that affects their joints. This is known as a joint bleed.
The symptoms usually begin with a tingling feeling of irritation and mild pain in the affected joint – most commonly the ankle joints, knee joints and elbow joints. Less commonly, the shoulder, wrist and hip joints can also be affected.
If a joint bleed isn't treated, it can lead to:
- more severe joint pain
- the site of the bleed becoming hot, swollen and tender
The symptoms of severe haemophilia are similar to those of moderate haemophilia. However, joint bleeding is more frequent and severe.
Children with severe haemophilia have spontaneous bleeding. This means they start bleeding for no apparent reason. Spontaneous bleeding can take the form of nosebleeds, bleeding gums, joint bleeds and muscle bleeding.
Without treatment, people with severe haemophilia can develop:
- joint deformity – which may require replacement surgery
- soft tissue bleeding – which could lead to further complications
- serious internal bleeding