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Thalassemia

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by Hollenstein J

(Mediterranean Anemia; Cooley's Anemia; Thalassemia Major; Thalassemia Minor)

 

Definition

Hemoglobin
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Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Thalassemias are split into two main categories. The categories are based on the part of hemoglobin that is affected:
  • Alpha thalassemia—based on the alpha part of hemoglobin
  • Beta thalassemia—based on the beta part of hemoglobin
 

Treatment

Treatment will be based on the type and severity of anemia. Mild forms may not need treatment. More severe forms may need:

Blood Transfusions

Blood transfusions will help provide healthy new red blood cells. The blood comes from a donor and is carefully screened before it is delivered in a transfusion.
Repeated blood transfusions can lead to high levels of iron in the blood. This can damage the heart, liver, and other vital organs. Certain medications can bind to the iron and carry it out of the body through urine.

Bone Marrow Transplant

Healthy stem cells from a donor's bone marrow are injected into your vein. The new cells travel through the blood into the bone cavities. There, they can produce new normal blood cells. This may be a cure in some. However, it can be hard to find a good match with a donor.

Splenectomy

Thalassemia can cause the spleen to enlarge. An enlarged spleen can make anemia worse. A splenectomy is a surgery to remove the spleen. It may help reduce the number of blood transfusions that are needed.

General Health

Complications and impact on your daily activities may be reduced by following basic healthy lifestyle tips:
  • Eat a well balanced diet. Your doctor may also recommend supplements like folic acid
  • Include regular physical activity
  • Take steps to prevent cold or flus. Wash your hand often. Avoid crowds in flu season. Get vaccinations as recommended.
  • If you have thalassemia and you are pregnant, talk to you doctor about any special steps you need to take.
  • Go to all medical appointments as recommended.
 

RESOURCES

Northern California Comprehensive Thalassemia Center
http://www.thalassemia.com

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Hemophilia Society
http://www.hemophilia.ca

The Thalassemia Foundation of Canada
http://www.thalassemia.ca

 

References


Alpha-thalassemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 4, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.


Beta-thalassemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 4, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.


Beta-thalassemia minor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 4, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.


Hemoglobin H disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 4, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.


Hydrops fetalis (due to homozygous alpha-thalassemia). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 4, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.


Thalassemia. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/thalassemia. Updated July 3, 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.


4/24/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Management of beta thalassaemia in pregnancy. Royal College of Obstetrians and Gynaecologists website. Available at: http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/uploaded-files/GTG66Thalassaemia270314.pdf. Published March 2014. Accessed April 24, 2014.

 

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