Things you need to know about Thalassemia. “Spreading Smiles, Spreading Awareness”

May 08,2019
Thalassemia is a serious disease inherited in the blood affecting an individual's ability to produce hemoglobin, resulting in anemia. Almost a hundred thousand children globally are born with severe types of thalassemia every year. Thus, World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the significance of dedicating a day to celebrate and spread awareness about Thalassemia. Therefore, every year on the 8th of May World Thalassemia Day is celebrated that works in raising awareness, educating people about the disease and giving information about the preventive measures in order to stop the transmission. What is Thalassemia? Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that is associated with abnormal production of hemoglobin. It is a genetic disorder and is frequently passed out from parent to child. As Thalassemia is a genetic disorder, the prevention of this disease is a bit difficult. The thalassemias are a cluster of autosomal recessive disorders produced by reduction or absent production of one or more of the globin chains that make up the hemoglobin (Hb) tetramers. What are the possible symptoms of Thalassemia? The symptoms of this disease vary on the type of Thalassemia and these symptoms does not often show till the age of 6 months in most newborns with beta thalassemia and few types of alpha thalassemia. The symptoms comprise:
  1. Jaundice and pale skin
  2. Drowsiness and fatigue
  3. Chest pain
  4. Cold hands and feet
  5. Shortness of breath
  6. Leg cramps
  7. Rapid heart beat
  8. Poor feeding
  9. Delayed growth
  10. Headaches
  11. Dizziness and faintness
  12. Greater susceptibility to infections
  13. Skeletal deformities may result as the body tries to produce more bone marrow.
  14. Patients with hemoglobin H are more likely to develop gallstones and an enlarged spleen.
  15. Untreated, the complications of thalassemia can lead to organ failure.
How to prevent it? To prevent a disease as severe as Thalassemia one should carry out regular blood tests and family genetic studies. If both parents have the probability of the disease, they should consult with a genetic therapist for help in determining whether to conceive or whether to have a fetus tested for thalassemia. Prenatal testing can also be carried out during the 11th week of pregnancy using chorionic villi sampling (CVS). This involves removing a tiny piece of the placenta. Otherwise, the fetus can be examined and cured with amniocentesis during the 16th week of pregnancy. Assisted reproductive therapy can be another option for the individuals with probability of the disease who are not willing to give birth to a child with thalassemia. An innovative procedure, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization possibly will allow parents who have thalassemia or carry the symptoms to give birth to healthy babies. Moreover, an individual having thalassemia should receive medical care on a regular basis from a hematologist or from a doctor who is expert in treating patients with thalassemia. Other healthy options include keeping vaccinations up-to-date, eating nutritious meals, exercising, and developing positive relationships. Donate Blood to save a life! Maintaining a safe blood supply is of great significance in our society. The individuals suffering from Thalassemia need blood transfusions after every two weeks approximately. Thus, the blood supply vital to the thalassemia community. This is where we should play our significant role of being a responsible member of the society. Every individual should come up and take part in donating blood to help those suffering from the disease. Donate blood and be a reason of someone’s health and wellness, be a reason someone smile. This Thalassemia day, join hands and march together towards a healthier future by reducing and ultimately eliminating Thalassemia.

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