What is thalassemia?
Thalassemia is a genetic disorder and like other genetic disorders, it hinders the normal functioning of the body. It affects the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells.
This disease is caused by a mutation in genes that produce two different types of hemoglobin chains. Hemoglobin is a protein necessary to carry oxygen in the blood.
As it is present in red blood cells and binds with oxygen to carry it into the bloodstream. During thalassemia, the low amount of red blood cells and low hemoglobin can lead to anemia.
Due to an insufficient amount of hemoglobin, the red blood cells do not function properly hence the red blood cells live for a shorter duration of time, resulting in few healthy blood cells in the bloodstream. This eventually causes thalassemia symptoms.
These diseases can be diagnosed at an early stage via different methods that include, complete blood count, reticulate count, hemoglobin electrophoresis, genetic testing, etc.
After getting diagnosed with thalassemia, the doctor will advise you to take certain treatments. There are many treatment options for thalassemia which are described below.
This article mainly focuses on thalassemia and its symptoms, treatment, and the cost of tests to diagnose thalassemia.
What are the signs and symptoms of thalassemia?
Several common thalassemia symptoms are observed in many patients. Although the thalassemia symptoms vary as the condition gets worse. The higher the mutation of genes involved the more symptoms get worse. But several common thalassemia symptoms help a medical professional to identify this condition in a patient, which:
Bone deformities of the face
Slow growth and development at early stage
Swelling in abdominal area
Pale and yellowish skin appearance
Urine with dark color
There are other thalassemia signs and symptoms as well which are only observed in other patients and can vary a lot depending on the condition of the patient.
What are the treatment options for thalassemia?
Even though mild symptoms of thalassemia do not require treatment. For severe symptoms treatment is required, there are many methods of treatment of thalassemia including
Blood transfusion –
Blood transfusion is one the majorly used method of thalassemia treatment, which involves the injection of blood to maintain the blood RBC level and hemoglobin level for normal functioning of the body.
Different patients may require receiving blood transfusions at different intervals of time according to the severity of their condition. If the condition is at a severe stage, a blood transfusion may be required every two to four weeks. In general, when the condition is mild, blood transfusions may be required every four months.
Iron chelators –
Iron chelators are used as thalassemia treatment in case there is iron overload. These chelators remove the excess iron from the body which can cause damage to various organs of the body.
Usually, regular blood transfusion can cause the RBC levels of the patient to go up and cause excessive iron to build up in the body leading to organ failure. Iron chelation therapy is prescribed to patients who receive blood transfusions frequently.
Folic acid supplement –
Several medications are prescribed to patients to help their bodies produce healthy blood cells. Folic acid supplements are such medicines that are prescribed to thalassemia patients to increase the level of RBC in the body naturally. It is also one of the most commonly used thalassemia treatments.
Bone marrow transplant –
Stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant is commonly used as thalassemia treatment to completely replace the diseased bone marrow that is unable to produce healthy red blood cells. To do so, a healthy donor is a match with the patients.
A matched donor is someone who has the same type of protein present on the surface of the blood cells as the person receiving a bone marrow transplant.
Bone marrow cells from the healthy donor will be transferred to the patient. These healthy blood cells from donors will start reproducing and producing healthy blood cells in the patients.
Other than these methods several different methods can be used as thalassemia treatment, which can be available in some countries only.
What is the test price of thalassemia?
Thalassemia test cost ranges from Rs. 500 to RS. 1,500 in India. It may vary a little depending upon the city it has been done in.
Although it is not expensive as compared to other blood disorder tests, it is quite unknown to the ordinary public. The thalassemia test price in different cities of India is mentioned below in the table:
|City||Maximum cost||Minimum cost|
|Delhi||Rs. 500||Rs. 1400|
|Mumbai||Rs. 850||Rs. 3000|
|Chennai||Rs. 700||Rs. 2500|
|Bangalore||Rs. 700||Rs. 1500|
|Hyderabad||Rs. 850||Rs. 2000|
|Noida||Rs. 650||Rs. 1200|
|Jaipur||Rs. 800||Rs. 1800|
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