Low Platelet Count

Overview of Thrombocytopenia, also known as Low Platelet Count.

Your blood is made up of four parts: red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma and platelets, also known as thrombocytes. If you are injured, your blood clots at the site of the wound by the platelets clumping together. A lack of platelets will cause bleeding to persist uncontrollably.Common symptoms of Thrombocytopenia are:
  • Abnormally heavy menstrual flows
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Bleeding from your gums or nose
  • Easy or excessive bruising (purpura)
  • Rash or bruise appearance of the skin, from superficial bleeding
  • Prolonged bleeding from injury
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
In the case of persistent, unstoppable bleeding, seek emergency medical attention. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, it is important to contact your physician. Low platelet levels can be caused by many different condition and is treated by addressing the underlying cause.

Issues with Bone Marrow

Your bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside of bones, where all of the aforementioned components of blood are created. There are many different conditions that can cause your bone marrow to lack the proper tools to create platelets.
  • anemia
  • a vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • viral infections, including HIV, Epstein-Barr virus, and chickenpox
  • treatment with chemotherapy or radiation
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • cirrhosis
  • leukemia

Platelets Longevity Shortened

Typically, in a healthy body, platelets lives 10 days. Sometimes the cause of a low platelet count is not a lack of creation, but of the body destroying platelets too quickly. You body may send signals to destory platelets too early because of medications you are taking or other medical conditions.
  • certain medications
  • an enlarged spleen
  • an autoimmune disorder
  • a bacterial infection in the blood
  • hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • pregnancy
  • disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)
  • idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)

How Is a Low Platelet Count Diagnosed?

First, your physician will complete a physical examination and collect your health history. Next, a series of blood tests will be ordered to determine levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other measurements. After the physician reviews your labs there may be others tests to confirm the underlying condition causing thrombocytopenia.