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Thalassemia Treatment

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes your body to make less hemoglobin than usual. Hemoglobin is the protein molecule that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen. Thalassemia can result in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anemia. This can cause fatigue.

If you have mild form of Thalassemia, you may not need treatment. But if you suffer from a severe form of Thalassemia, then you may require regular blood transfusions. Consult your doctor for treating Thalassemia.

Symptoms

There are several types of Thalassemia, and each sign and symptoms can vary.

Thalassemia signs and symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Facial bone deformities
  • Slow growth
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dark urine

Some babies show signs and symptoms of Thalassemia at birth, while for some, signs of the disorder also tend to show up later in childhood or adolescence.

Causes of Thalassemia

Thalassemia begins in an individual when there's an abnormality or mutation in one of the genes involved in hemoglobin production. Thalassemia is caused by mutations in the DNA of cells that make hemoglobin, which you inherit from your parents. You may develop a form of the disease known as thalassemia minor If only one of your parents is a carrier for Thalassemia. However, you have a higher chance of inheriting a more severe form of the disease, if both of your parents are carriers of Thalassemia.

Diagnosis

Blood Tests: If children have Thalassemia, they usually show signs and symptoms within their first two years. The doctor will diagnose the Thalassemia by performing a blood test. These blood tests will reveal the number of red blood cells and abnormalities in size, shape, or color. Blood tests can also be used for hemoglobin electrophoresis-where different molecules in the red blood cells are separated and identified for abnormality.

Prenatal testing: Test is used to diagnose Thalassemia in fetuses to determine if he or she has Thalassemia and determine how severe it might be.

Treatment

People with Mild forms of Thalassemia don't need any treatment. For moderate to severe Thalassemia, treatments might include:

  • Frequent blood transfusions: People suffering from Thalassemia, often require frequent blood transfusions, possibly every few weeks.
  • Chelation therapy: When blood transfusion causes a buildup of iron in your body, this treatment is used to remove excess iron from your blood. For your health, you must remove the excess iron.
  • Stem cell transplant: Stem cell transplant is also called a bone marrow transplant. For children having severe Thalassemia, it can eliminate the need for lifelong blood transfusions and drugs to control iron overload. Infusion of stem cells is conducted from a compatible donor, usually a sibling to the patient.

Lifestyle and home remedies

  • Adopt healthy-living habits and manage your Thalassemia by following your treatment plan.
  • The doctor may recommend avoiding excess iron.
  • Eat a healthy diet, and the doctor may also suggest a folic acid supplement to help your body make new red blood cells.
  • Eat calcium and vitamin-rich diet to keep your bones healthy.
  • Avoid infections by washing your hands frequently and avoiding sick people.

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