ALPHA THALASSEMIA - Overview, Facts, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis

ALPHA THALASSEMIA

Alpha Thalassemia is a genetic blood condition. It is passed down through the genes of one or both parents. Your body produces less hemoglobin than usual if you have thalassemia. In red blood cells, hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein. It transports oxygen throughout the body.

The anemia caused by thalassemia might be minor or severe. Anemia is a condition in which your body lacks sufficient red blood cells or hemoglobin. The number of genes involved determines the degree and kind of anemia.

TYPES

Alpha thalassemia is categorized by four types, including:

  • Thalassemia minor
  • Silent alpha thalassemia carrier
  • Hemoglobin H Disease
  • Thalassemia major

SYMPTOMS

Some of the most common symptoms of Thalassemia are:

  • Irritability
  • Shortness of breath, weakness, or fatigue
  • Dark urine
  • Facial bones deformities
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Slow development
  • Jaundice or yellow color of the skin

DIAGNOSIS

Alpha thalassemia is usually detected before a child’s second birthday or through newborn screening, a blood test performed shortly after birth. A bloated abdomen, anemic symptoms, and failure to thrive are common in children with alpha thalassemia major.

If the doctor suspects alpha thalassemia, the following tests will be ordered:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Hemoglobin electrophoresis with A2 and F quantitation
  • FEP (free-erythrocyte protoporphyrin) and ferritin

A single blood test can be used for all of these tests. Also, the infant is diagnosed in a pregnant woman via CVS (chorionic villus sampling) or amniocentesis. A DNA test is necessary to diagnose alpha thalassemia.

TREATMENT

Your healthcare professional will determine the optimal medication for you based on the following factors:

  • How sick you are.
  • Your opinion or preference.
  • How long the condition is expected to last.
  • Your age, overall health, and medical history.
  • How well you can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies.

The following treatments may be used:

  • Surgery to remove your spleen.
  • Blood transfusions (as needed).
  • Daily doses of folic acid.
  • Avoidance of certain oxidant drugs in hemoglobin H disease.
  • Medicines to reduce extra iron from your body (called iron chelation therapy).

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