There are so many factors that determine the way we are born; that affect the way we live, grow and thrive. While some of those elements are within our control, many things such as chronic illnesses and genetic disorders are not. However, just because certain conditions are beyond our control does not mean that we cannot do anything about it at all. In fact, at a time when access to information and knowledge is unbelievably easy, one of the biggest favors we can do for ourselves is to be aware of our bodies, its issues, the complications that come with it and the consequences they have. It is important to know the real facts so that we can make informed decisions about our lives and manage it to the best of our abilities despite those problematic factors.
One such disorder plaguing the lives of many is thalassemia. Thalassemia is a blood disorder inherited through genetics where the body makes an abnormal form or an inadequate amount of hemoglobin that results in large numbers of red blood cells being destroyed, which in turn leads to anemia. Hemoglobin is made of two proteins, Alpha globin and Beta globin. Thalassemia occurs when there is a defect in the genes that help control production of one of these proteins.
SOME SYMPTOMS OF THALASSEMIA INCLUDE:
- Bone deformities in the face
- Growth failure
- Shortness of breath
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
Treatment for thalassemia major often involves regular blood transfusions and folate supplements. Blood transfusions can help control some symptoms, but it carries a risk of side effects from too much iron. Getting regular blood transfusions and therapy to remove iron from the body helps improve the outcome. A bone marrow transplant may also help treat the disease in some people, especially children. If left untreated, thalassemia major leads to heart failure and liver problems. It also makes a person more likely to develop infections. Less severe forms of thalassemia often do not shorten lifespan.
However, according to Dr. Masuda Khatoon, MBBS, FCPS. Gynecologist & Obstetrician, prevention is only way to keep this disorder controlled. She stresses that “antenatal diagnosis is not easily available and termination of pregnancy is not safe or allowed in many communities. The only available safe way to prevent it is to adopt ‘Safe Marriage’. Healthcare providers should make the general population aware of the range of combinations in a proposed coupling, and the risks that come with it.”
You should consult a medical professional if:
- You are planning to start a family with your partner, and want to run the relevant tests to eliminate the risk of passing on thalassemia to your child.
- You or your child has symptoms of thalassemia.
- You are being treated for the disorder and new symptoms develop.
The important thing to keep in mind, is that we humans are so adaptable, that we can work our way around almost anything if we make ourselves aware of what the problem is and how to tackle it, even if there isn’t always a cure for everything. The right treatment or supportive therapy at the right time can improve the quality of life by a lot, so always listen to your body and have regular health checkups even if you feel alright, and have hope for betterment!