Thalassemia Symptoms

The symptoms of thalassemia are caused by anemia. Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood produces a lower-than-normal amount of healthy red blood cells. Anemia often develops in people with thalassemia because the body cannot make enough hemoglobin. Without enough hemoglobin, red blood cells in your blood stream cannot work properly to effectively deliver oxygen to cells throughout your body.

Learn more about what causes thalassemia.

Symptoms of anemia include:

  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Shortness of breath
  • Paleness
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Headaches

Depending on the type of thalassemia you have, you may experience mild anemia or no symptoms at all.

Symptoms in young children

Children who have more serious types of thalassemia often have symptoms by the time they are 2 years old. These can include:

  • Pale skin or yellowing of the skin and eyes ( jaundice )
  • A large abdomen from a spleen or liver that is larger than normal
  • Changes or problems with bones in the face
  • Dark urine
  • Poor appetite
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities

More serious forms of thalassemia are often diagnosed during the newborn screening. Learn more about how thalassemia is diagnosed.

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