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Thalassemia: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment?

Thalassemia is a blood disorder caused by abnormal hemoglobin and red blood cell production. Hemoglobin assists your red blood cells in carrying oxygen. Less red blood cells and low hemoglobin may result in anemia. You may feel weak and fatigued all the time. You may also experience abdominal swelling, dark urine or pale skin. This is an inherited condition and can be diagnoses at early childhood stage. People with mild thalassemia may need blood transfusion. People with moderate to severe thalassemia require frequent blood transfusion. Stem cell transplant is another treatment for people suffering with severe thalassemia.

How is the treatment done?

During blood transfusion, the components of your blood that are required in a particular region are transferred intravenously. If your condition requires frequent blood transfusions, there is a high possibility of iron building up in your blood. You will have to take regular medications to flush out the excess iron in your blood. Stem cell transplant, also known as bone marrow transplant, is a process wherein the patient’s stem cells are transplanted. The stem cells are usually derived from bone marrow or umbilical cord blood. This process is highly effective for children born with severe thalassemia. If done right at birth, it eliminates the need for blood transfusion and medications throughout life.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

People who suffer from constant fatigue or weakness and are experiencing abdominal swelling, dark urine, pale skin or facial bone deformities are at high risk of being diagnosed with thalassemia. Also, people who have a family history involving thalassemia have a high chance of inheriting it.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If you are going through some other medical condition, the weakness, dark urine or pale skin may be due the medications being taken for it.

Are there any side effects?

Blood transfusions can build up a huge amount of iron in your blood. You will have to take oral medications like deferasirox to remove the excess iron.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

You must protect yourself from infections by frequently washing your hands with soap. You may also have to take folic acid supplements to increase the red blood cell count in your body. Your diet must be healthy and should contain adequate calcium and vitamin D. Do not take vitamin or other supplements that contain iron.

How long does it take to recover?

Mild thalassemia may be treated in a short time. Severe thalassemia may take a few years or even your whole life. You may have to keep getting blood transfusions regularly.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of a blood transfusion process may be between ₹10000 - ₹ 15000. A bone marrow may cost anything between ₹20Lakh - ₹35Lakh.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Severe thalassemia cannot be treated fully unless treated right at birth. One might have to keep going for blood transfusion all their lives.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There is no alternative treatment for thalassemia but you can manage your thalassemia at home by taking a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and maintaining very good hygienic conditions so that you stay away from infections.

Safety: Medium Effectiveness: Medium Timeliness: Medium Relative Risk: High Side Effects: High Time For Recovery: Medium Price Range:

Rs 10,000 - Rs 35,00,000

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Popular Questions & Answers

I sleep really late and feel lethargic all day. Night time I'm most active is it because of I'm thalassemia minor? My recent hemoglobin level has dropped to 9.4 from 10.9.

DM - Clinical Haematology, MD - General Medicine, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Hematologist, Pune
No That wouldnt cause weakness as your body is adapted to low Hb We need to look for alternate etiology as well 1. Superadded iron deficiency 2. Hypothyroidism.

My wife has a thalassemia trait. Her initial haemoglobin was around 8.8-8.9.but now it is hovering around 7.0-7.2.is that a concern? Please suggest. She is into her 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Ex Sen.V.Surgeon/Research Scientist, M.D.(Alternative Medicine/tibetan/chinese/acupuncture), Vaida/ Unani, Homeopath
Unani Specialist, Moga
Hi sir- in my opinion it will be better if you take our thalla and HB med course-- for permanent cure. Low Hb is of high concern to the baby even and both.

Hello, hematologist, I have thalassemia major by birth I am consulting you because I want to know that is using filter with /during blood transfusion of 2 bags can help form less iron in body. Is there any advantage of using filter that forms less iron in body. I am taking transfusion every 18-20 days.

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Hi, the filtered prbc transfusion contains same amount of iron as without​ filter. Filter are not for reduction of iron. It is used to reduce transfusion associated fever, shivering and to reduce late effect of alloimunisation, a complications whi...
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My daughter is 18 years old thalassemia child. She has been detected combs Direct positive. Kindly advise the treatmen. Thank you.

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As she is thalassemic, so I think, she is receiving regular blood transfusion. The direct coombs test may become positive in many situations and treatment is completely different for those. First the test may give false positive report, if done wi...
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Neither I am nor my wife is having thalassemia. My 2.5 years old baby boy have 10.9 haemoglobin. Is there any possibility of having thalassemia. please advise.

DM - Clinical Haematology, MD - General Medicine, MBBS
Hematologist, Durgapur
Thalassemia can be diagnosed only by screening hb HPLC test. If your baby is having anemia, it is wise to go for thalassemia screening test. Thanks.
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Table of Content

What is the treatment?
How is the treatment done?
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Are there any side effects?
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
How long does it take to recover?
What is the price of the treatment in India?
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
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