Thalassaemia – life threatening disease

What is Thalassaemia?

Thalassaemia is a blood disorder where the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. This is inherited genetic disorder from parents.

Types of Thalassaemia

There are three types of Thalassaemia:

  • Beta Thalassaemia
  • Alpha Thalassaemia
  • Thalassaemia Minor

Beta Thalassaemia

This occurs when your body is incapable of producing beta globin. Beta globin is produced by inheriting one gene from each parent. Its two serious sub-types are:

1) Thalassaemia Major

This is one of the severe forms of thalassaemia major where beta globins are missing. It is a life threatening disease and symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Poor diet
  • Regular infections
  • Fussiness
  • Enlarging of organs

It requires regular blood transfusions.

2) Thalassaemia Intermedia

It is less severe than thalassemia major and happens because of alteration in beta globin genes. It doesn’t require any blood transfusion.

Alpha Thalassaemia

This occurs when your body is incapable of producing alpha globin. In order to produce alpha globins, you need four genes altogether, two from each parent. The sub types of alpha thalassemia are:

1) Hemoglobin H

This occurs when three alpha globin genes are missing from a person’s body. This can lead to bone issues. Due to this, cheeks, forehead and jaws start over growing. This can cause jaundice and a person is severely malnourished.

2) Hydrops Fetalis

This is an extremely severe form which occurs before birth when four alpha globin genes are missing.

Thalassaemia Minor

The people who suffer from thalassaemia minor don’t have any specific symptoms. They usually suffer from minor anemia. Anemia is a condition where the person isn’t able to produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. The condition of patient is classified as alpha thalassaemia minor or beta thalassemia minor. In alpha thalassemia minor, two genes are missing. In beta thalassemia minor, one gene is missing. But it’s necessary to go and get a checkup done if your parents or relatives are suffering from this disease.


The treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Some treatments include:

  • Blood Transfusion
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Surgery
  • Medications and supplements

If you’re healthy enough to do so, donate blood. Your blood can save someone’s life. Visit Pakistan Red Cross Society and make a difference.


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