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Treatment Options

Treatment 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 need no treatment.
  • People with moderate forms of thalassemia may need occasional blood transfusions.
  • People with severe 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 thalassemia will not live beyond early childhood.
Bone marrow or stem cell transplants have cured thalassemia in some children. However, this treatment is not available for most people with the condition.
Researchers are studying new treatments for thalassemia, including ways to cure the disease through stem cell and gene therapies.
(Click Treatments for Thalassemia for more information about treatment options.)

Other Names for Thalassemia

Other names for alpha thalassemia include:
  • Alpha thalassemia "silent carrier"
  • Mild alpha thalassemia (also called alpha thalassemia minor or alpha thalassemia trait)
  • Hemoglobin H disease
  • Hydrops fetalis or alpha thalassemia major.
Other names for beta thalassemia include:
  • Beta thalassemia minor (also called thalassemia minor or thalassemia trait)
  • Beta thalassemia intermedia (also called thalassemia intermedia or mild Cooley's anemia)
  • Beta thalassemia major (also called thalassemia major or Cooley's anemia)
  • Mediterranean anemia.
The term "Cooley's anemia" is sometimes used to refer to any type of thalassemia that requires treatment with regular blood transfusions.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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