Symptoms of Beta Thalassemia

The symptoms that can occur in a person with beta thalassemia range from mild to severe. In addition, people who are carriers of the disease may not show any symptoms at all beyond a mild anemia that is often only determined after a blood test. Severe beta thalassemia symptoms typically appear in the first two years of life. They include fatigue, jaundice, and dark urine.

An Introduction to the Signs and Symptoms of Beta Thalassemia

Beta thalassemia symptoms will vary, depending on the type and severity of the disease. Symptoms typically occur when oxygen does not get to various parts of the body due to low hemoglobin and a shortage of red blood cells in the blood (this is called anemia). Signs and symptoms are considered severe in beta thalassemia major and less severe in beta thalassemia intermedia.

Mild Symptoms

Some people are "silent carriers" of beta thalassemia and do not have any symptoms. People who are silent carriers have beta thalassemia trait. They often have mild anemia, which is only diagnosed through a blood test.

Moderate Symptoms

Individuals with beta thalassemia intermedia may not have any symptoms, or their symptoms may be mild throughout childhood and adolescence.

Severe Symptoms

Severe symptoms of beta thalassemia major appear in the first two years of life. Possible symptoms include:
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Pale skin or jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Protruding abdomen with enlarged spleen and liver
  • Dark urine
  • Abnormal facial bones and poor growth
  • A poor appetite.
Adolescents with the severe form of beta thalassemia may experience delayed puberty.
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