Hemophilia: Recognizing bleeds

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Teens living with hemophilia can learn why trusting their senses and speaking up is the best way to recognize bleeds

When you experience a bleed, your body communicates certain signals to you. At first, you may feel a slight tingling, or feel warmth or swelling of a joint. Not all of the signals happen at once. At first, these signals may have been so subtle that bleeding went unnoticed when you were younger. Interpreting how your body responds to bleeds early on is important. After recognizing a bleed you need to make a decision: Are you going to ignore these early signs or are you going to do something about them?


Learn to trust your senses

Your senses are your best tools to help you recognize bleeds. Our body is equipped with many different sensing abilities that go beyond the basic five senses we are all familiar with (sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing). Depending where the bleed is located, you may sense different symptoms. Here are some ways your body tells you that you may have a bleed.

The “aura”

Some people with hemophilia have the ability to sense when they are bleeding – even before it becomes obvious. This special feeling is sometimes called an “aura”. Little is known about the aura, but it may be a way of interpreting all the senses at once. As you learn to trust your body and your ability to recognize bleeds, you may develop an aura. It can help you recognize and treat a bleed in its early stages.

Area feels warm

Sometimes the site of the bleed feels warm without actually touching the area. Rather your joint may feel like it’s heating up. This ability to sense temperature is called thermoception.

Area is painful

We do not need to tell you that bleeds hurt. Our ability to sense pain is called nociception. Once you sense pain, you know that you need to address it right away.

Trouble balancing

We also have a sense of where we position our limbs with respect to one another. This sense is called proprioception. With this sense, for example, we do not have to consciously look down at our feet while we walk to make sure we are standing upright. It is the same sense that police officers check when they suspect a person is driving under the influence of alcohol. When our propricoeption sense is disturbed, we can have trouble balancing. This can happen with serious ankle bleeds, for instance.

Admit when you are hurt, no matter how minor the injury

When you were younger and having fun playing with friends it may have seemed easier to ignore the signals your body sent you. You continued to do so because the consequences were not real to you. But telling someone you are hurt and need attention right away, no matter how minor the injury, helps protect your joints in the long run. Remember hemophilia joint bleeds can not only put you out of commission for a few days, but they can cause nasty permanent damage to the joint. It depends on how many and how severe the bleeds are that you have had in that area. If you do not take care of the bleed right away, you may be causing some irreversible damage. This is exactly what you want to avoid.

Remember the most important sense of all is common sense! If this is working really well it will hopefully help you avoid silly bleeds that could have been prevented.

Use hydrogen peroxide to clean a blood stain. It literally bubbles the blood out. Rinse the area with cold water and repeat where necessary.

Last updated: March 13th 2019