(Mediterranean Anemia; Cooley's Anemia; Thalassemia Major; Thalassemia Minor)
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- Alpha thalassemia—based on the alpha part of hemoglobin
- Beta thalassemia—based on the beta part of hemoglobin
- One abnormal gene—silent carrier, no signs of illness but can pass condition on to child
- Two abnormal genes—thalassemia trait, may have mild anemia
- Three abnormal genes—Hemoglobin H disease, moderate to severe anemia
- Four abnormal genes—most severe form called Alpha hydrops fetalis, results in fetal or newborn death
In beta thalassemia:
- One abnormal gene—Thalassemia minor, carrier with mild anemia
- Two abnormal genes—Thalassemia major known as Cooleys anemia, may have moderate to severe anemia
Certain types of thalassemia are associated with ancestors from certain parts of the world:
- Alpha thalassemias—Southeast Asia, Malaysia, and Southern China
- Alpha hydrops fetalis—Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Filipino ancestry
- Beta thalassemias—Africa, areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and Southeast Asia
- A family history of the disorder
- Feeling weak and tired
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or headaches
- Cold hands and feet
- Pale skin
- Lack of interest in activity
- Pale appearance
- Poor appetite/feeding
- Dark urine
- Slow growth and delayed puberty
Enlarged and fragile bones, including:
- Thickening and roughening of facial bones
- Bones that break easily
- Teeth that don't line up properly
- Increased risk of developing infections
- Enlarged spleen
- Heart failure
- Liver problems
- Red blood cells
- Eat a well balanced diet. Your doctor may also recommend supplements like folic acid
- Include regular physical activity
- Take steps to prevent cold or flus. Wash your hand often. Avoid crowds in flu season. Get vaccinations as recommended.
- If you have thalassemia and you are pregnant, talk to you doctor about any special steps you need to take.
- Go to all medical appointments as recommended.
Northern California Comprehensive Thalassemia Center http://www.thalassemia.com
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Canadian Hemophilia Society http://www.hemophilia.ca
The Thalassemia Foundation of Canada http://www.thalassemia.ca
Alpha-thalassemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 10, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Beta-thalassemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 15, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Beta-thalassemia minor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 10, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Explore thalassemias. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/thalassemia. Updated July 3, 2012. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Hemoglobin H disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 10, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Hydrops fetalis (due to homozygous alpha-thalassemia). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 10, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
4/24/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Thalassaemia in pregnancy, Management of Beta (Green-top 66). Royal College of Obstetrians and Gynaecologists website. Available at: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/gtg66. Published March 27, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 04/24/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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