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Inhibitor Invasion

An inhibitor means your soldier proteins are attacking your factor.

By Heather Boerner | 10.24.2011
Originally Published October 2011

Hark! Who goes there? If it’s a nasty bug, your body is ready to attack.

Your body is a fortress, and every day, a battle is going on inside. Your body fights to keep the good stuff healthy, like your organs and your blood, and keep out bad stuff, like bacteria and viruses that make you sick. We all have special soldier proteins called antibodies patrolling our blood, looking for invaders. When they find them, these soldier proteins sneak up on the invaders and—hiyah!—they destroy them.

If you have an inhibitor, your soldier proteins are also trying to kill your hemophilia factor. To them, factor is just another alien invader that must be kicked out. The trouble is, when your soldier proteins attack the clotting factor, it can’t work. So you might bleed more than other kids with hemophilia.
Scientists aren’t sure why some kids have “soldiers” that cause inhibitors. But you aren’t the only one with this kind of overactive immune system. Kids with allergies to pollen, pets or peanuts also have immune systems that attack things they shouldn’t.

And just like kids with allergies, some medications will work for you and some won’t. There is a special kind of factor just for kids with inhibitors, but it doesn’t work for everyone. And because your defense system is so strong and stops the factor from working, your bleeds might last longer, hurt more and cause more damage. Sometimes kids with inhibitors have to use wheelchairs or crutches.

The good news is that scientists are trying to stop your super-strong soldier proteins from overworking, or at least find a factor that works for all kids with inhibitors.

Remember, you’re on your body’s defense team, too. So gear up. Be careful playing with your friends and running around in the house. And look for signs that you could be bleeding, like areas on your body that feel warm, tight, tingly or bubbly. Let your parents or another grown-up know if you feel pain, even if it’s just a headache. Being responsible is important, so you can get treated faster and feel better soon.

Come to your body’s defense—and don’t let an inhibitor get you down.