What is thalassemia?


Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes an atypical form of haemoglobin.  The condition results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anemia. In this condition your body doesn’t have enough normal, healthy red blood cells.

This is inherited, meaning that at least one of your parents must be a carrier of the condition. It’s caused by either a genetic alteration or a deletion of certain key genes. There are two major types of thalassemia that are more serious. In alpha thalassemia, at least one of the alpha globin genes has a mutation or anomaly. The beta globin genes are disturbed in beta thalassemia. Individually, these forms of thalassemia have different subtypes. The exact form you have will affect the severity of your indications and your viewpoint.

Indications of thalassemia

The indications of thalassemia can vary. Most common ones include:

  • bone deformities, especially in the face
  • dark urine
  • delayed growth and development
  • excessive tiredness and fatigue
  • yellow or pale skin

Not everybody has visible indications of thalassemia. Signs of the condition also tend to show up later in childhood or adolescence.

Reasons of thalassemia

It occurs when there’s an irregularity or mutation in one of the genes involved in haemoglobin production. People receive this genetic abnormality from their parents.

If only one of your parents is a carrier for thalassemia, you may have a form of the disease known as thalassemia minor. You perhaps won’t have symptoms, but you’ll be a carrier if this occurs. Very few people with thalassemia minor do develop minor symptoms. If both of your parents are carriers of thalassemia, you have a greater chance of inheriting a more serious form of the disease often known as Thalassemia major.

What are the Different Forms of Thalassemia?

There are three main types of thalassemia and four subtypes which includes:

  • beta thalassemia, which comprises the subtypes major and intermedia
  • alpha thalassemia, which comprise the subtypes haemoglobin H and hydrops fetalis
  • thalassemia minor

How To Diagnosis Thalassemia?

If your physician is trying to diagnose thalassemia, they’ll likely take a blood sample. Unusually designed red blood cells are a sign of thalassemia. The lab specialist may also perform a test known as haemoglobin electrophoresis. This test splits out the different molecules in the red blood cells, permitting them to identify the abnormal type.

Depending on the type and severity of the thalassemia, a physical examination might also help your physician make a diagnosis. 

Treatment choices for thalassemia

It depends on the type and severity of disease involved. Your clinician will give you a course of treatment that will work best for your particular case. This might include:

  • blood transfusions
  • bone marrow transplant
  • medications and supplements
  • possible operation to eliminate the spleen or gallbladder

Your clinician may educate you not to take vitamins or supplements containing iron. This is particularly true if you need blood transfusions because individuals who receive them collect extra iron that the body can’t easily get rid of. Iron can accumulate in tissues, which can be potentially fatal. People may also need chelation therapy if they’re receiving a blood transfusion. This usually includes receiving an inoculation of a chemical that binds with iron and other heavy metals. This helps eliminate extra iron from your body.


Subsequently thalassemia is a genetic disorder, there’s no way to prevent it. Yet, there are ways you can accomplish the disease to help prevent complications. Expert suggests that all individuals with disorder protect themselves from infections by keeping up with the following vaccines in addition to ongoing medical care:

  • haemophilus influenzae type b
  • hepatitis
  • meningococcal
  • pneumococcal

Furthermore, along with a healthy diet, regular exercise can help manage your symptoms and lead to a more positive prognosis. Moderate-intensity exercises are usually suggested, since heavy exercise can make your symptoms worse. Some examples of moderate-intensity workouts are walking and bike riding. Swimming and yoga are other choices, and they’re also good for your joints. 

Life expectancy

This is a serious illness that can lead to life-threatening problems when left untreated or undertreated. Although it’s tough to pinpoint an exact life expectancy, the general rule is that the more severe the condition, the quicker thalassemia can become lethal.

According to some estimates, people with beta thalassemia, the most severe form, typically die by age 30. The reduced life span has to do with iron overload, which can eventually affect your organs.

Scientists are continuing to explore genetic testing as well as the possibility of gene therapy. The earlier thalassemia is noticed, the sooner you can receive treatment. Gene therapy could possibly reactivate haemoglobin and deactivate abnormal gene alterations in the body in the future.