People with hemophilia can have bleeding in and around the brain either after an injury or without a known cause. You cannot see this bleeding inside the head. Head bleeds can cause permanent brain damage or even death.
Signs that you may be having a head bleed:
- You have had a hard blow to your head.
- Headache that doesn't go away for 24 hours or that gets worse with time.
- Confusion, trouble paying attention, repeating yourself often.
- Slurred speech.
- Drowsiness, sluggishness.
- Loss of consciousness (passing out).
- Lethargy (trouble waking up or keeping awake).
- Double vision, blind spots, blurred vision.
- Dilated or unequal pupils in the eye; eyes not moving together.
- Dislike of bright light.
- Sudden, forceful vomiting (throwing up), with or without feeling sick to your stomach.
- Numbness, tingling, or a loss of feeling.
- Stiff neck or back.
- Difficulty walking.
- Dizziness, clumsiness, stumbling, falling.
- Muscle weakness or being unable to move a muscle.
- Seizures (convulsions).
How to treat a head bleed:
- A person with hemophilia should take enough factor concentrate to raise his level to 80% to 100% for hemophilia A or 60% to 80% for hemophilia B. You don’t have to be sure that you are having a head bleed. If you think you might be, take factor.
- Call your hemophilia doctor or HTC.
- Continue taking factor to keep your level at 50% until your doctor says you can stop.
- Do not take pain medicine for a headache after you have a head injury. The medicine may cover up signs of a serious problem and delay your getting help.
Parents - If you are not sure about whether to give your child factor for a head injury, go ahead and give it. Always give factor for head injuries that you do not witness, such as those reported to you by school staff.
Remember these things, too:
- Bleeding into the brain can be slow. Signs of the bleed can take several days to show up.
- A head bleed can occur without an injury or other known cause (a spontaneous bleed). Don't ignore minor symptoms.
- Some people with hemophilia develop a seizure disorder after a head injury. The injured part of the brain gets scars on it. The scars can cause seizures to happen. Medicine which prevents seizures is a must for someone with a seizure disorder. Having a seizure can cause more injury and bleeding.
- Bleeding in the brain can cause permanent brain damage, loss of movement (paralysis), and learning problems.
- You will probably need to take factor regularly for several months after a head bleed. If you don’t take factor, there is a great risk of bleeding into your head again.
How to prevent head bleeds:
- Avoid sports or activities that are likely to involve blows to the head.
- People with severe hemophilia should not ride rollercoasters or other thrill rides that cause jerking of the head. It is a good idea to take factor before going to an amusement park.
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike.
Call your doctor or treatment center if:
- You have a head injury. A doctor needs to check you right away after all strong blows to the head to make sure you are not bleeding.
- You have any of the signs of a head bleed.