Also called: Cooley's anemia, Mediterranean anemia

Thalassemias are inherited blood disorders. If you have one, your body makes fewer healthy red blood cells and less hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to the body. That leads to anemia. Thalassemias occur most often among people of Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Southern Asian, and African descent.

Thalassemias can be mild or severe. Some people have no symptoms or mild anemia. The most common severe type in the United States is called Cooley's anemia. It usually appears during the first two years of life. People with it may have severe anemia, slowed growth and delayed puberty, and problems with the spleen, liver, heart, or bones.

Doctors diagnose thalassemias using blood tests. Treatments include blood transfusions and treatment to remove excess iron from the body. If you have mild symptoms or no symptoms, you may not need treatment. In some severe cases, you may need a bone marrow transplant.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of Thalassemia

The following features are indicative of Thalassemia:
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • yellowish skin
  • facial bone deformities
  • slow growth
  • abdominal swelling
  • dark urine
It is possible that Thalassemia shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Thalassemia

The following are the most common causes of Thalassemia:
  • mutations in the DNA of cells that make hemoglobin
  • genetic disorders

Risk Factors for Thalassemia

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Thalassemia:
  • family history
  • people of Mediterranean and Southeast Asian ancestry

Prevention of Thalassemia

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Thalassemia. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • genetic counseling helps in providing guidance about the thalassemia

Occurrence of Thalassemia

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Thalassemia cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Thalassemia can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Thalassemia can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Thalassemia

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Thalassemia:
  • Blood tests: To measure the amount of iron in your child's blood
  • Amniocentesis: To diagnose thalassemia in fetuses

Doctor for Diagnosis of Thalassemia

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Thalassemia:
  • Hematologist

Complications of Thalassemia if untreated

Yes, Thalassemia causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Thalassemia is left untreated:
  • heart disease
  • liver disease
  • infections
  • osteoporosis
  • bone deformities
  • splenomegaly
  • delay in puberty

Procedures for Treatment of Thalassemia

The following procedures are used to treat Thalassemia:
  • Blood transfusions: Helps in managing thalassemia complications
  • Stem cell transplant: To control iron overload

Self-care for Thalassemia

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Thalassemia:
  • Avoid excess iron intake: Helps in managing thalassemia
  • Eat a healthy diet: Keeps your bones healthy and provides you energy
  • Frequent hand-washing: Prevents from infections

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Thalassemia

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Thalassemia:
  • Use extract of Aegle Marmelos: Acts as fetal hemoglobin inducing agent in human erythroid cells

Patient Support for Treatment of Thalassemia

The following actions may help Thalassemia patients:
  • Join support group: Provides useful information about the disease and helps in coping with the disease

Time for Treatment of Thalassemia

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Thalassemia to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Thalassemia.

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