Thalassemia is a genetic (inherited) conditions affecting the blood. There are different types of thalassemia.

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Beta Thalassemia

 [Wolverhampton University]


Thalassemia is a genetic (inherited) conditions affecting the blood. There are different types of thalassemia. Depending what you have, thalassemia can cause disease at all, or it could be a serious life condition requiring treatment.

What causes thalassemia?

The cause is genetic changes, including the genes that indicate the body as an important chemical called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a chemical which carries oxygen in the blood - is the one who gives blood its red color. Hemoglobin is in the cells, called "red blood cells, which are an integral part of blood. (Nassar, Rechdan, 2006) Hemoglobin is made from various parts. The main part is called "Alpha chains and beta chains, which are put together to make a molecule of hemoglobin. In thalassemia, a part of hemoglobin is damaged - usually either the alpha chain or beta-chain. This means that some of the hemoglobin is not working properly. As a result, not enough normal hemoglobin and red blood cells break down easily. This makes a person "anemic" (not in hemoglobin), with different symptoms. Meanwhile, the body trys to make more hemoglobin and red blood cells. Thus, the blood is in the 'surplus' mode, which can lead to symptoms and complications. (Nassar, Rechdan, 2006)

Depending on the type of thalassemia, the number of abnormal hemoglobin is different. This can be a big part of the body of hemoglobin, and only a small percentage. This is basically what determines how serious to have thalassemia. There are also other individual factors. Thus, two people with the same type of thalassemia may have different severity of the disease from one state. (Nassar, Rechdan, 2006)

Beta-thalassemia major

Anyone with beta-thalassemia major, two genes of beta-thalassemia. Most of their hemoglobin is abnormal and does not work. This leads to severe anemia, beginning around age 4-6 months. Until the child is not affected. This is because until the age of 3-6 months, the child makes a different type of hemoglobin called fetal hemoglobin, which are not affected by the gene of thalassemia. In beta-thalassemia major, you need regular blood transfusions, as well as another treatment to prevent complications. (Nassar, Rechdan, 2006)

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Beta-thalassemia intermedia

As the name implies, this type is less severe than the beta-thalassemia major. Do you have a two-gene beta thalassemia, but can do some of hemoglobin, which works quite well. This may be because your particular combination of genes of thalassemia is (because of) less serious, or because some other protective factors. Although less severe than thalassemia major, thalassemia intermedia is a need to regularly monitor the life and often requires a specific treatment to prevent complications. (Aessopos, Meletis, 2007)

Sickle cell / beta-thalassemia

This can happen if one parent has the gene of beta-thalassemia, ...

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