Thalassemia is a group of genetic disorders which is marked by less hemoglobin and few red blood cells than normal in the body. It results in anemia in the body. The patient with thalassemia feels lethargic, exhausted and tired all the time. Other symptoms are jaundice, dark urine, and difficulties in breathing. In children, its symptoms include slow growth, delayed puberty, and abdominal swelling. It ranges from mild to moderate to severe forms. Most of the thalassemia patients require lifelong blood transfusion with chelation therapy.1 This helps them to lead a normal life.
How To Cope With Thalassemia?
Living with thalassemia is not easy; it requires regular medical attention, diet modifications, and other lifestyle changes. Following are the ways to cope with thalassemia.
Diet Modification. Iron rich food should be removed from the diet if you are transfused. Diet modification is the best way to cope with thalassemia. It is recommended to eat a balanced diet that contains nutritious food. Rich sources of Vitamin D and calcium should be included in your diet. Folic acid supplements should be taken regularly to promote the production of healthy red blood cells.2
Follow The Treatment Plan. You should follow the treatment plan, blood transfusion and iron chelation medicine as prescribed by your physician. You have to visit your physician for regular medical checkups. Get yourself tested for thalassemia regularly as suggested by your physician.
Avoid Infections. prevention from infections is important to avoid complications of thalassemia. Avoid contact with sick people and maintain personal hygiene. Vaccinations recommended by your physician should also be followed to prevent infections like flu, hepatitis B, pneumonia, etc. Avoiding infections is important in the process of coping with thalassemia.3 If you observe a few symptoms, contact your physician.
Thalassemia is one of the blood disorders that lead to the destruction of red blood cells in the body. In thalassemia, the body is not able to produce sufficient red blood cells as compared to the destruction. This results in a deficiency of hemoglobin in our body. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to different parts of the body. This thereby results in anemia in the body. Anemia is a condition in which there is a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body.4
The symptoms of thalassemia may range from mild to severe forms. These symptoms can be.
- Pale or yellow skin
- Extreme tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness in the muscle
- Lack of appetite
- Dark urine
- Slow growth
- Delayed puberty
- Bone deformities
- Swelling in the abdomen.5
The treatment of thalassemia is dependent on the type and severity of the cases. Mild cases do not require treatment. Moderate to severe forms of thalassemia require the following ways of treatment.
Blood Transfusion. regular blood transfusion can cover up the hemoglobin and red blood cell requirements. It is done frequently for every few weeks.6
Folic Acids. folic acids support the body to produce more and more healthy blood cells.7
Chelation Therapy. regular blood transfusion may lead to building up of iron in the body. Excess iron can damage heart, liver and other vital organs. Chelation therapy is beneficial in the removal of extra iron from the body. It is recommended to avoid iron supplements and iron rich food when blood transfusion is done.8
Bone Marrow Or Stem Cell Transplantation. Damaged cells of bone marrow are replaced with healthy cells through bone marrow transplantation. The bone marrow is usually transplanted from a healthy close relative (brother or sister). It is a better option for severe cases of thalassemia. It avoids the need for lifelong blood transfusion and iron control drugs (chelation).9
Thalassemia creates lots of struggle in life. The patient may require regular blood transfusion and iron chelation therapy for whole life. You can cope with thalassemia by avoiding iron supplements and iron rich food, regular medical checkups, and others discussed above.