Thalassemia and Anemia

Health Corner

Thalassemia and Anemia

Doctor Umm-e-Saarib


Anemia refers to blood deficiency in the body. There are many types and causes of anemia. Thalassemia is a type of anemia and is the name for a group of inherited conditions that affect a substance in the blood called hemoglobin. People with thalassemia produce either no or too little hemoglobin, which is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. This can make them very anemic; tired, short of breath and pale.

Types of Thalassemia

1.   Alpha thalassemia

2.   Beta thalassemia

Types of Thalassemia in Terms of Severity

1.   Thalassemia Major: Thalassemia major is the most severe kind. It is a dangerous type that can be passed on from generation to generation. It causes an extreme blood deficiency and could be fatal if blood is not transfused on time.

2.   Thalassemia Intermedia: Thalassemia intermedia is moderate in severity, there is less of a requirement for a blood transfusion in this type and usually the hemoglobin level remains between 7 and 9.

3.   Thalassemia Minor: Thalassemia minor has the lowest severity and patients usually maintain a normal lifestyle without symptoms. As symptoms do not appear in this type, it can only be detected with a laboratory test. It is especially important to diagnose it before marriage because children can have thalassemia major if both spouses suffer from this.


Signs of thalassemia major usually appear by the age of 6 months. Some of the symptoms are:

* Anxiety

* Pale skin caused by the lack of hemoglobin

* Loss of appetite

* Growth failure

* Jaundice


At present, about 90,000 people in Pakistan suffer from thalassemia and there is an increase of 8,000 every year.[1]

A blood test called ‘hemoglobin electrophoresis (H.B. electrophoresis)’ only needs to be done once in a lifetime and can be taken any time after the age of six months. If both parents have thalassemia minor, the child is at risk of developing thalassemia major.

Thalassemia patients are advised to maintain a low fat diet with plenty of vegetables. They must limit fatty and oily foods, and if blood iron levels are already high, the patient needs to further limit iron-rich foods. Fish, meat, milk and bread are high in iron.

Thalassemia can cause folic acid deficiency. Folic acid is found naturally in dark green leafy vegetables and fruits. This is an important nutrient that prevents the adverse effects of high iron levels and protects red blood cells. If the patient is not getting enough folic acid through their diet, they should consult their doctor who may prescribe folic acid supplements.

Social Awareness

1.   It is important for the public to know that this disease is not transmitted by area of residence, education, occupation, environment, clothing or by living together.

2.   If one of the parents has thalassemia minor, then only thalassemia minor will be transmitted to the child.

3.   Whether thalassemia is minor or major, it is present in the body at birth in those who have it.

4.   Thalassemia minor remains minor throughout life and thalassemia major remains major for the duration of life. These two types can never be interchangeable.

5.   Parents with thalassemia minor have a 50% chance of passing it on to their children and a 25% chance of passing on thalassemia major. Although these people appear to be healthy, the disease is passed on to their future generations.

Necessary Precautions

Diseases and their cures are from Allah Almighty, He is the Healer and the Protector, but as far as is known from research and experience, precaution should be taken. Take a precautionary measure against thalassemia. Ensure that prospective spouses have a test before marriage. If one of the two is minor, it is not a problem, but if both are minor, then their future children have a chance of suffering from major. Therefore, if someone is diagnosed as being a thalassemia patient in the test, they should be married off to someone whose test is normal.

Dawat-e-Islami and Thalassemia

By the grace of Allah Almighty, Dawat-e-Islami’s vision and work not only extend to propagating the Quran and Sunnah through its remarkable global efforts, but it is thoroughly involved in welfare projects to support communities at the time of natural disasters.

Recently, many institutions in the beloved country of Pakistan required blood for thalassemia patients, but there was a national shortage.

During this time, Shaykh-e-Tareeqat Ameer-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ encouraged people to donate blood for those suffering from various blood diseases including thalassemia and prayed for the blood donors. Dawat-e-Islami teams responded immediately by establishing blood donation points across the country. Within one year, Dawat-e-Islami delivered more than 40,000 bottles of blood. May Allah Almighty allow Dawat-e-Islami to flourish and may He grant cure and wellbeing to the sick across the world.

اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم

[1] Beta-thalassaemia major affects around 1 in 100,000 of the population in England. There are currently 873 patients diagnosed with beta-thalassaemia major in the UK according to the National Haemoglobinopathy Registry.




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