How will I know if I am anaemic?
People with anaemia may feel tired and look pale. If the anaemia is severe then they may feel breathless or feel their heart pounding. Symptoms tend to be more severe if the anaemia develops suddenly or if you have other underlying health issues.
What is does carrier or trait mean?
DNA is grouped into genes. Genes come in pairs and you inherit one of each pair from your mother and one from your father. For certain disorders, including sickle cell disease, thalassaemia and haemochromatosis, having one of these genes means you are a carrier or have the trait. These people are by and large healthy and are often completely unaware of the gene they have. If you have the gene from both your parents then you have the disease. People with trait should be aware of this for when they get married and want to start a family.
How will I know if I am a carrier for sickle cell or thalassaemia?
You will not know unless you have been tested. The tests are quite complicated to interpret and so results should be trusted from accredited laboratories only. For some of the thalassaemia traits this can be quite difficult to interpret and genetic testing will be needed to give a definitive result. This is best organised by a specialist. Most carriers of sickle have their ethnic origins in Western or Central Africa, the Middle East or Southern Asia. Thalassaemia is a much broader with the gene being detected in people whose ethnic origins are from Southern Europe, most of Africa, Middle East, Southern and South East Asia.
How will I know if I could have haemochromatosis?
The Haemochromatosis gene is commonest in people of Celtic descent – with 1 in 20 of these people being carriers. You will not know you are a carrier until you are tested. If there is a history of this in your family you ought to be tested. People with iron overload due to haemochromatosis tend not to have symptoms until their problem is very severe with iron accumulated in the organs causing them to dysfunction.