Treatment for beta thalassemia will depend on the type and severity of the disease. Examples include:
- People who are carriers of the thalassemia trait usually have no symptoms and do not need treatment.
- Those with moderate forms of the disease may need occasional blood transfusions.
- Those with severe beta thalassemia have a serious and life-threatening illness. They are treated regularly with blood transfusions, iron chelation therapy, and bone marrow transplants. Without treatment, children with severe beta thalassemia do not generally live beyond early childhood.
Bone marrow or stem cell transplants have cured beta thalassemia in some children. However, this treatment option is not available for most people with beta thalassemia.
Thalassemia research scientists are studying new treatments for the condition, including ways to cure thalassemia through stem cell and gene therapies.
If you have moderate or severe beta thalassemia, you need to take good care of your health. Some suggestions for living with beta thalassemia include:
- Follow your treatment plan and see your healthcare provider regularly for checkups and treatment.
- If you have regular blood transfusions and iron chelation therapy, it is important to continue with treatment as recommended.
- If you have regular blood transfusions, you should avoid taking vitamins or other supplements containing iron.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Your healthcare provider may also give you a folic acid (a B vitamin) supplement to take every day in order to help your body make new red blood cells.
- Get a flu shot every year and the pneumococcal vaccine to prevent infections.