Thrombocytopenia

1 What is Thrombocytopenia?

Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which there is low blood platelet count.

Platelets are the cells of blood which help to clot the blood during bleeding.

It often occurs as a result of an underlying health conditions such as leukemia and disorder of immune system.

It can also be a result of consuming certain medications.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of thrombocytopenia include:

  • prolonged bleeding from cuts,
  • enlarged spleen,
  • purpura (excessive bruising),
  • petechiae (small red spot on the skin),
  • bleeding from gums or nose,
  • blood in urine,
  • blood in feces,
  • fatigue,
  • heavy menstruation
  • and jaundice.
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3 Causes

Thrombocytopenia can be inherited or it might be caused by several underlying health conditions.

An enlarged spleen which can be caused by a number of other disorders can harbor too many platelets decreasing the number of circulating platelets.

Decreased production of platelets can occur in the following conditions like

  • leukemia,
  • anemia,
  • viral infections such as hepatitis or HIV,
  • while using chemotherapeutic drugs
  • and also while alcohol consumption.

Increased break down of platelets can be caused by the following conditions:

Pregnancy

Thrombocytopenia caused in pregnancy is mild and improves soon after the birth of the child.

Autoimmune disease

Destruction of platelets by body’s own immune system is called auto-immune disease.

Bacteremia

Destruction of platelets by bacterial toxins in the blood.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome

A rare disorder causing sharp drop in the number nof platelets acquired by eating raw or uncooked meat.

Medications

Certain medications can increase the destruction of platelets by confusing immune system. Examples include heparin, quinine and sulpha containing antibiotics.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Making a diagnosis of thrombocytopenia is done by your hematologist, who would recommend the following tests:

  • Complete blood count: This test would be the most important test for this disorder since it will determine the number of blood cells. Normal platelet count is 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. If the platelet count is less than 150,000 platelets per microliter, it is known as thrombocytopenia.
  • Physical examination which include through examination of the skin looking for any signs of bleeding in the skin.
  • A doctor would also like to know complete medical history of the patient, history of illness and family history.

5 Treatment

Mild thrombocytopenia may not need any treatment.

Treating the underlying cause

If thrombocytopenia is associated with an underlying cause, treating that cause would help.

For example, if thrombocytopenia is caused by ingestion of heparin, doctors would recommend stoppage of heparin to improve the condition.

Transfusion

Blood or platelet transfusion will help elevate the count of platelets.

Medication

If this condition is related to immune system problem, doctor may prescribe drugs to boost platelet count.

Surgery

Doctor may recommend removal of spleen to improve the condition.

6 Prevention

The following ways can be used to prevent thrombocytopenia:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol,
  • avoid contact with toxic chemicals such as pesticides,
  • arsenic and benzene.

Over-the-counter medications must be taken cautiously.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

The following alternative remedies may help to improve thrombocytopenia:

  • Vitamin C from fruits and vegetable can be absorbed easily and can immediately help to restore body’s platelet count
  • some herbal medications can also be used to increase platelet count.

However, no alternatives and home remedies are recommended by doctors. They advise to take proper medical treatment.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle changes after being affected with thrombocytopenia include:

  • avoid activities that cause injury,
  • avoiding sports like boxing, martial arts and football will reduce the risk,
  • avoid drinking alcohol and avoid over-the-counter medications

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with thrombocytopenia.

Following are the risk factors of thrombocytopenia:

  • pregnancy,
  • consuming certain drugs such as heparin,
  • and family history of the disease.

Untreated thrombocytopenia may lead to dangerous internal bleeding when platelet count falls below 10,000 platelets per microliter.

Rarely bleeding can occur in the brain which can lead to death.

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