Thalassemia is blood disorder that occurs when the body does not produce a sufficient quantity of hemoglobin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The condition is genetic, meaning it passes from one or both parents to the child.
Patients with thalassemia experience anemia, which ranges from mild to severe, explains the CDC. Anemia symptoms include shortness of breath, headaches, difficulty concentrating and pale skin, and severe anemia can result in organ damage, organ failure and death.
Thalassemia is a treatable disorder, and most treatment plans include blood transfusions and chelation therapy, reports the CDC. Doctors also prescribe folic acid to help red blood cells develop.