World Thalassemia Day 2022
World Thalassemia Day 2022
Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes aboriginal hemoglobin. It's either caused by genetic mutation or deletion of certain key genes. This disorder results in the destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anemia. The treatment of thalassemia depends on the type and severity of the disease.
Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that thalassemia is, “an inherited (i.e., passed from parents to children through genes) blood disorder caused when the body doesn’t make enough of a protein called hemoglobin, an important part of red blood cells. When there isn’t enough hemoglobin, the body’s red blood cells don’t function properly and they last shorter periods of time, so there are fewer healthy red blood cells traveling in the bloodstream.”
Red blood cells (RBCs) are important since they are responsible for supplying oxygen to all the cells in the body, which they use to carry out the important functions. In case of lack of healthy RBCs, oxygen supply won’t be proper, which can make a person feel tired and weak and he/she may experience shortness of breath. This condition is known as ‘Anemia’. People with thalassemia experience mild to severe anemia and the latter can lead to organ damage and be fatal.
Thalassemia in children
Dr. Suman Jain, MBBS, DCH, CEO, Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Society mentions the symptoms of thalassemia in a child between 3 months to 1 year of age, which are:
- Inability to sleep
- Unwillingness to eat
- Becoming pale
- Swollen or bloated abdomen
- Recurrently falling sick
- Not putting on weight
She informs that thalassemia children require lifelong, regular blood transfusion once in 2-3 weeks. Also, they may be prescribed Iron chelating drugs. Since the child’s life is majorly dependent on blood transfusion, it is important that we encourage people to donate blood on regular basis.
Types of Thalassemia
Thalassemia is broadly classified as α-thalassemia (or alpha thalassemia) and β-thalassemia (or beta-thalassemia). It can be further defined as:
- Thalassemia Minor: 4-5% of our population are its carriers. Their Hb is 9-12gm%
- Thalassemia Intermedia: It is diagnosed at the age of 2 years and requires monitoring and blood transfusion as and when required.
- Thalassemia Major: The patient requires regular blood transfusion and iron-chelating drugs for life.
Healthy Living With Thalassemia
Since thalassemia is inherited from the parent, it is hard to prevent the disorder. A person suffering from thalassemia may need regular consultation with their doctor. They may experience problems like weakness and fatigue, dizziness, leg cramps, headache, shortness of breath, lack of concentration, etc. Four other ways, as suggested by CDC, in which a person with thalassemia can live a healthy life are:
Vaccines are a great way to prevent many serious infections. Children and adults with thalassemia should get all recommended vaccinations, including a flu vaccination. People with thalassemia are considered “high risk” for certain infections, especially if they have had their spleen removed, and should follow a special vaccination schedule
Eating nutritious foods is important for everyone to maintain a healthy lifestyle – a diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats is ideal for gaining the essential nutrients our bodies need. For people living with thalassemia, because too much iron may build up in the blood, foods high in iron may need to be limited.
Exercise is part of an overall healthy lifestyle and helps lead to better health outcomes. Although some people with thalassemia may have trouble participating in vigorous forms of exercise, many people with thalassemia can participate in moderate physical activities including biking, running, and walking.
Having warm, supportive relationships is an important part of life. Friends, including co-workers, classmates, and family members can offer support in managing thalassemia and coping with the stress of daily life.