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Understanding Low Platelet Count (Thrombocytopenia) : Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Home > Blogs > Understanding Low Platelet Count (Thrombocytopenia) : Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Understanding Low Platelet Count (Thrombocytopenia) : Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Cardiac Sciences | Posted on 02/01/2024 by Dr. Sanjeeb Roy



Introduction

Low platelet count is one of the main concerns that are overlooked and doesn’t receive any importance in terms of overall health. It is essential to understand that it plays an important role when it comes to protection from conditions like viral infections- dengue, autoimmune illnesses, bone marrow problems, etc. So, if you experience easy bruising or small red or purple spots, then you must book your appointment with one of the best multispecialty hospitals, CK Birla Hospitals Jaipur. You will find the proper diagnosis and immediate treatment solution here for your problem. 

In this blog, you will discover the information that’s related to low platelet count comprehensively. However, kindly note that it is research-based information and we do not encourage overlooking the doctor’s consultation.

What is a Low Platelet Count?

Thrombocytopenia, the medical term for low platelet count is a condition in which the number of platelets in the blood keeps decreasing. Because platelets are vital for blood clotting, massive bleeding or issues with clotting occur when their count reduces to below normal ranges which are normally less than 150,000 platelets per microliter of blood. Countless conditions such as autoimmune diseases, viral infections (e.g., dengue or HIV), bone marrow disorders, etc. are a result of thrombocytopenia. Easy bruising, prolonged bleeding from small cuts, petechiae (small red or purple spots on the skin), and in more severe cases, internal bleeding are probable symptoms. Medication, blood transfusions, or treating the underlying cause of the low platelet count might be required. Initial detection and treatment are essential to prevent complications.

What are Low Platelet Count symptoms?

Different low platelet count symptoms happen depending on the underlying cause and the severity of thrombocytopenia or low platelet count. It is imperative to determine the cause at the earliest and seek medical attention to begin the right treatment and avert complications. Here are some of the symptoms of low platelet count involve:

  • Simple bruises
  • Prolonged bleeding following small wounds
  • Purple or red spots on the skin.
  • Severe bleeding in the nose or gums
  • Blood in the stools or urine
  • Heavy menstrual cycles
  • Weakness or exhaustion
  • If underlying liver disease is the cause of jaundice or yellowing of the skin or eyes,
  • Spleen enlargement (if the cause is associated with a splenic disorder)
  • Bleeding in the gastrointestinal system, resulting in bloody or black stools

What are the causes of Low Platelet Count?

Here are some of the thrombocytopenia or low platelet count causes:

  • Bone marrow disorders: These involve aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, and leukemia impacting the formation of platelets.
  • Immune system illnesses: This is similar to autoimmune disorders or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), in which the body targets platelets.
  • Viral infections: These involve the Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis C, and HIV destroying or suppressing platelet formation.
  • Medication: This includes drugs causing immune-mediated destruction or lower platelet production, such as antibiotics, diuretics, chemotherapy, or anticonvulsants.
  • Genetic disorders: This involves thrombocytopenia-absent radius syndrome and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome impacting platelet function or formation.
  • Liver disease: Hepatitis or cirrhosis leads to affecting the formation or clearance of platelets.
  • In response to heparin medication, thrombocytopenia is induced by heparin (HIT).
  • Overindulgence in alcohol: This leads to impairing bone marrow function.
  • Cancer treatments: They can temporarily reduce platelet production including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • Some infections: They cause more destruction or sequestration, such as dengue fever or malaria leading to lower platelet counts.

How is Low Platelet Count diagnosed?

The diagnosis of low platelet count depends on different factors such as the patient's symptoms, medical history, and family history. Thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, is diagnosed by:

  • Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) identifies other blood abnormalities and evaluates platelet levels.
  • Physical examination: It involves looking for bruises, bleeding, or petechiae symptoms.
  • Review of medical history: Medications taken, recent infections, bleeding disorders in the family history, etc.
  • A bone marrow biopsy may be necessary if bone marrow disorders are thought to be the cause.
  • Extra tests: To assess underlying conditions like imaging studies (CT scan, ultrasound) or blood clotting tests (coagulation studies).
  • Tests for platelet function: Assessing the ability of the platelets to produce clots.
  • Specialized tests: Additional tests like antiplatelet antibody testing or genetic studies, may be required if autoimmune disease or other particular causes are suspected.

What are the options available for Low Platelet Count treatment?

Treatment aims to enhance platelet counts and avert bleeding complications; this depends on the underlying cause, the extent of thrombocytopenia, and individual patient factors. Thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, can be treated with the following:

  • Medications: Immunoglobulins to improve platelet count, or corticosteroids to suppress the immune system in autoimmune-related cases.
  • Platelet transfusions: When platelet counts are extremely low or there is significant bleeding.
  • Splenectomy: When autoimmune disorders occur, the spleen is surgically removed.
  • Pharmaceuticals to increase the production of platelets are similar to thrombopoietin receptor agonists promoting increased platelet formation in the bone marrow.
  • Management of underlying illnesses involves tackling the underlying issue, such as treating infections or modifying prescription regimens.
  • Reducing or stopping the use of medications inhibiting platelet synthesis or triggering immune-mediated destruction.
  • Lifestyle changes: Stay away from activities increasing the risk of damage or bleeding, and keep yourself healthy in general to support the formation and function of platelets.

Conclusion

In summary, thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count is treatable with several approaches depending on the underlying cause and the particular requirements of every patient. The aim is to improve platelet counts and avert bleeding complications. It can be accomplished by anything such as drugs that increase platelet production to transfusions and, in extreme cases, surgical interventions. Long-term management can also involve modifying lifestyle choices and treating underlying conditions. Patients with thrombocytopenia can effectively manage their condition and maintain overall health and well-being with the proper diagnosis and prompt intervention. To reduce the effect of low platelet count on daily life and enhance treatment outcomes, patients and healthcare providers must work closely together.

FAQ -

 

What is the most common cause of low platelet count?

The most common cause of low platelet count involves thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and disseminated intravascular coagulation including bacterial and viral infections like dengue. 

How much platelet count is normal?

The normal range of platelet count is 150,000- 450,000. It must not reduce more than 150,000 as it can lead to certain serious complications.