Thalassemia is a rare blood disorder that affects the production of hemoglobin, which is an essential component needed to bind with oxygen in the bloodstream. Once paired, oxygen is then transported throughout the body via the red blood cells. If there is not enough hemoglobin or if the hemoglobin is damaged, there will be less oxygenated blood, in turn, leading to shortness of breath, fatigue or weakness. All are symptoms of a condition called anemia, which is characterized by a low number of red blood cells that are unable to adequately transport the amount of oxygenated blood needed to sustain the body. Severe anemia, if left untreated, can lead to irreversible consequences and sometimes death.
There are many different terms related to thalassemia, a few being beta, alpha, trait, minor, intermediate, and major. Beta and alpha are different parts of the hemoglobin molecule. A physician may refer to beta or alpha thalassemia, which is referencing the portion of hemoglobin that is not being produced. Trait, minor, intermediate, and major depicts the progression of the disorder. For example, if a person needs regular blood transfusions to combat severe anemia, it could be classified as thalassemia major.
The condition is not contracted but instead acquired from your mother or father, meaning it is passed down genetically. People of Asian, Middle Eastern, African or Mediterranean descent are at higher risk. Thalassemia is primarily treated through blood transfusions if the anemia is considered severe. However, for those who suffer from mild anemia associated with thalassemia, folic acid supplementation may be encouraged by your physician because it aids in the production of hemoglobin.
Lifestyle modifiers for this condition include adequate rest, a well-rounded diet, participating in low to moderate exercise, and remaining up to date on vaccinations due to the increased risk for certain illnesses. Those diagnosed with thalassemia can have a well rounded, thriving lifestyle when adhering to the plan of action laid out by their hematologist, also known as a blood disease doctor, in addition to utilizing the modifiers mentioned above.
To learn more about this condition or to get answers on treatment options available for you, you can talk to doctor online or you can get yourself tested for thalassemia in Pakistan at home from top laboratories.