Thalassemia is a type of a disease, resulting in the abnormal production of hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin stimulates oxygen circulation all over the body. Therefore, a dip in the hemoglobin count can lead to anemia, a disease inducing weakness as well as fatigue. Acute anemia can take a toll on the organs and ultimately cause death.
Severe thalassemia in children yields symptoms, such as dark urine, abdominal swelling, slow growth, jaundice, a pale appearance and deformed skull bones. Diarrhea, frequent fevers and eating disorders are also common.
- Blood transfusions: Regular blood transfusion is the only treatment needed for beta thalassemia aiming to keep sufficient Hb level to avoid long-term complications, though bone marrow transplant is radical cure for the disease.
- Iron chelation therapy: The hemoglobin in the red blood cells is rich in iron-protein that gets deposited in the blood with regular blood transfusion. This condition is known as iron overload as it damages heart, liver and various parts of the body. Iron chelation therapy is used to prevent this damage as it helps to remove the excess iron from the body. Deferoxamine and Deferasirox are two such medicines used for this therapy.
- Folic acid supplements: Folic acid being a B vitamin produces healthy red blood cells and is therefore recommended as a substitute for the above procedures.
- Transplant of blood and marrow stem cell: A blood and a marrow (a substance within the cavities of bones where blood cells are produced) transplant replaces the faulty stem cells with healthy ones contributed by a donor.