Thalassemia symptoms emerge along a spectrum of severity and intensity based on the nature of the genetic coding of the disease for the individuals. Carriers of the genetic disease may show little to any observable symptoms unless blood work is drawn. Those who have the major version due to bearing both versions of the disease will show extreme symptoms.
There are four zones for Thalassemia on the range beginning with the least serious: Thalassemia minima, Thalassemia minor, Thalassemia intermedia, Thalassemia major. The minimima and minor versions rarely need any treatment. The intermedia and major likely need transfusions and even bone marrow replacement.
1. Step 1
~ Check for signs of anemia ~
Anemia is a side product of Thalassemia. Since Thalassemia is characterized by low hemoglobin and the too-rapid destruction of red blood cells, the blood has a harder time carrying oxygen. Anemic symptoms can therefore result even in Thalassemia minor. Watch for dark circles under the eyes, pale skin, and other symptoms of anemia.
2. Step 2
~ Pay attention to fatigue ~
Fatigue that cannot be simply explained by over exertion is often a sign of Thalassemia. This can be attributed to two factors: anemia mentioned above, or inability to carry oxygen efficiently.
3. Step 3
~ Watch out for jaundice ~
If yellowed skin seems to be a cyclical or continual condition it can be attributed to multiple factors. The rapid destruction of red blood leaves behind a byproduct called bilirubin. A high level of bilirubin causes jaundice (a yellowing of the skin tone and even whites of the eyes.) This can be a serious condition causing damage to internal organs.
4. Step 4
~ Get full blood work done ~
If these symptoms seem to be present or there is a family history of the disease get blood work done as early as possible. Thalassemia even in the minima version will show up on blood work with a high bilirubin count and small pale red blood cells if placed under a microscope.