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Introduction To Thalassemia – Symptoms And Dietary Recommendation


Introduction To Thalassemia – Symptoms And Dietary Recommendation

Thalassemia is a blood disorder which is inherited and caused by either deletion of key gene fragment or mutation in genes. As a result of which body starts producing abnormal haemoglobin which leads to anaemia. It is transmitted to the next generation when one of the parents is the carrier of the disease. Haemoglobin in red blood cell is responsible for oxygen transport and is protein in nature. When abnormal haemoglobin is formed, there is not enough supply of oxygen to your organs which leads to abnormal functioning and complications.

Haemoglobin has two alpha and two beta chains in their structure. When there is a mutation in alpha globin genes we call it alpha thalassemia. Similarly, when there is a mutation in beta-globin genes we call it beta thalassemia. It is not a single disease but complex group of diseases.


Symptoms vary depending upon type and severity of disease, some general and common symptoms are as follow
• Dark urine
• Bone deformity especially facial bones and brittle bones
• Fatigue and weakness
• Enlarged spleen
• Poor appetite
• Heart issues
• Slow and delayed growth and development
• Jaundice

Thalassemia major:

if both parents are the carrier of thalassemia then the child born will inherit mutated genes from both parents and would suffer from thalassemia major. Such patients suffer from severe symptoms of anaemia in the early ages of their life.

Thalassemia minor:

if only one parent has mutated gene the child is said to be thalassemia trait carrier and may face minor symptoms of anaemia.

Introduction To Thalassemia – Symptoms And Dietary Recommendation

Dietary recommendations:

1. In thalassemia, there is iron overload, mainly due to increased absorption of iron and blood transfusion. When there is a low level of haemoglobin in blood, more iron is absorbed. So the patients with thalassemia major or those who are in between their transfusions should modify their diet. They need to avoid iron-rich foods and should decrease iron absorption.
2. Avoid consuming vitamin C, vinegar, pickle, and alcohol in combination with iron products. Limit lemon consumption while cooking meat. They enhance absorption of iron in the body.
3. Dairy products are a rich source of calcium. Calcium interferes with iron absorption in the body. Incorporate calcium-rich foods in the diet
4. Soy protein decreases absorption of iron in the body. Wheat, bran, maize, soy, and rice combat against vitamin C effect and reduce iron absorption.
5. Tea and coffee consumption right after a meal, decrease iron absorption in the body, so consuming tea is highly recommended. Not only is this tea a good source of antioxidant

Introduction To Thalassemia – Symptoms And Dietary Recommendation

Food to avoid:

• Peanut butter
• Tofu
• Red meat, pork, oyster
• Rice Chex, corn flakes
• Prune juice
• Watermelon
• Spinach
• Broccoli
• Beans
• Raisins

These foods enhance absorption so it is recommended to cut back on them.

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