DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Thalassemia (thal-uh-SEE-me-uh) is an inherited blood disorder characterized by less hemoglobin and fewer red blood cells in your body than normal. Several types of thalassemia exist, including alpha-thalassemia, beta-thalassemia, Cooley's anemia and Mediterranean anemia.
Hemoglobin is the substance in your red blood cells that allows them to carry oxygen. The low hemoglobin and fewer red blood cells of thalassemia may cause anemia, leaving you fatigued.
If you have mild thalassemia, you may not need treatment. But, if you have a more severe form of thalassemia, you may need regular blood transfusions. You can also take steps on your own to cope with fatigue, such as choosing a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- What are thalassemias? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Thalassemia/Thalassemia_All.html. Accessed Dec. 30, 2010.
- Giardina PJ, et al. Thalessemia syndromes. In: Hoffman R, et al. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06715-0..X5001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06715-0&uniqId=230100505-56. Accessed Dec. 30, 2010.
- Mueller BU. Prenatal testing for the hemoglobinopathies and thalassemias. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 3, 2011.