Does Thalassemia Cause Low Iron?

The level of iron in the person suffering from thalassemia depends upon the severity of the disease. In the mild form of the disease the person may be anemic, but iron supplement should only be administered if he suffers from iron deficiency.

Does Thalassemia Cause Low Iron?

Different forms of thalassemia have different effect on iron levels of the body. There are two different form of thalassemia. Thalassemia minor is the mild form of the disease. Thalassemia minor is cause due to the mutation in one gene and the symptoms are either not present or if present, are very mild. The treatment is not recommended in such form is thalassemia and also the hemoglobin level is normal in such patients. Further, the patient suffering from thalassemia minor can also participate in blood donation. It has been shown through studies that patient suffering from thalassemia minor has a low level of iron and are may be suffering from iron deficiency anemia.

Studies have concluded that the low iron level is a co-existing condition along with beta thalassemia trait. Although not require an aggressive treatment as compare to thalassemia major and blood transfusion, these patients may sometimes suffer from severe iron deficiency anemia. Another severe form of the disease is thalassemia major. This form of the disease is developed when many genes responsible for the synthesis of hemoglobin gets mutated, resulting in the synthesis of abnormal hemoglobin.

The level of the hemoglobin in such thalassemia patients is low and they are suffering from severe anemia. Further, these patients are not eligible for blood donation. The standard therapy for treating such patients is blood transfusion. The frequency and amount of the blood transfusion depends on the severity of the disease and the number of genes that are mutated. When the frequency of the blood transfusion is high, the iron levels in such patients are more and may reach to a toxic level.

The excess iron is at the risk of accumulating in vital organs such as liver and heart. The high level of iron is also increasing by reduced erythropoiesis and high iron absorption from the intestine. The corrective action for increased iron level in such patients is the administration of iron chelating agents. Thus, the level of iron depends upon the severity of the disease and its effect on the level of hemoglobin. If the disease is mild as seen in thalassemia minor, the level of iron would be low while in disease of high severity such as thalassemia major, the level is high and may result in iron toxicity. Further it should be noted that the iron is not supplemented in cases of anemia due to thalassemia minor unless the diagnosis confirms the deficiency of iron.

Thalassemia Complications

Thalassemia is the disease that involves the chemical which can be said as the lifeline of the body. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues through which the organs are able to function. Thus, any abnormality in the process of synthesis of hemoglobin significantly impacts the functioning of the body. The complications arising due to thalassemia depends upon the severity of the disease. Following are the complications of severe thalassemia:

Iron Toxicity: The severe form of thalassemia is managed by the frequent blood transfusion. Blood transfusion increases the load of iron in the body and the excess iron starts accumulating in the vital organs such as liver and heart. Further, the condition is also complexed by increased iron absorption and low erythropoiesis.

Organ Failure: The accumulation of iron in vital organs may lead to organ failure. Further, if the proper oxygen is not provided to the tissues, this may lead to tissue damage and other organs may also fail.

Death: If the complication due to thalassemia such as low oxygen level or due to its treatment such as iron accumulation is not promptly managed, fatal consequence may occur.


In thalassemia minor, the level of iron is reduced in the body. The studies concluded that iron deficiency is co-existing feature with beta thalassemia trait. In thalassemia major, the level of iron is high.

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