Thrombocytopenia is characterised by a low blood platelet count. Platelets refer to the tiny blood cells that help your body form clots to prevent bleeding and control infections.

The spongy tissue inside your bones, the bone marrow, is responsible for making platelets. And when it can’t produce sufficient platelets or destroys them faster before they can be replaced, thrombocytopenia begins to develop.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • There could be a blood disorder that may be affecting the bone marrow (aplastic anemia).
  • The individual could have other conditions like leukemia or lymphoma.
  • The presence of diseases like Wiskott-Aldrich or May-Hegglin syndromes that lower the platelet count.
  • The individual may be suffering from chickenpox, mumps, rubella, HIV, or Epstein-Barr.
  • The person has a history of consuming alcohol.
  • The individual has undergone chemotherapy or radiation. Exposure to pesticides may also interfere with the platelet production process.

Sometimes, the body destroys too many platelets. This abnormal behaviour could be the result of:

  • Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the body attacks healthy cells. These usually include lupus, immune thrombocytopenia, or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).
  • Bacterial contamination of the blood (bacteremia).
  • Antibiotics that inhibit the blood clotting process, particularly those containing sulfa, heparin and anti-seizure drugs such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and vancomycin (Vancocin).
  • Rare blood clotting disorders like thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that affects the blood vessels and causes causes kidney problems
  • Presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), hepatitis C, and HIV
  • Bleeding from your gums or nose
  • Blood in your urine or faeces
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Ecchymosis
  • Petechial hemorrhage

Firstly, a record of your medical history and symptoms will be taken. Your doctor will be looking for bruises, petechiae, low levels of platelets, and infections, like a fever or rash.

The doctor then will take a blood test; the goal is to measure your platelet level. 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood is considered to be the optimal range. But when that range drops below 50,000, problems like bleeding disorders arise.

A blood specialist (hematologist) will be consulted. There could be other tests too:

  • A blood smear: Your platelets will be observed under a microscope to gauge their health.
  • A bone marrow: The test will try to determine the health of the cells in the bone marrow.
  • Clotting tests: Is your blood clotting the way it should?

In case of severe thrombocytopenia, the doctor may administer:

  • Steroid medicines: These will prevent your body from destroying platelets.
  • Intravenous immune globulin: In case you can’t take steroids and you need a higher platelet count quickly.
  • Platelet Transfusion: Blood or platelets from a healthy person.
  • Surgery: Only if it is refractory ITP (immune thrombocytopenic purpura), the spleen will be removed.

Patients are our number one priority. We are committed to their health and wellbeing. It is this dedication that guides us to give our very best, and our multidisciplinary team of trained professionals work together to ensure quality care. If you’re showing any symptoms of Thrombocytopenia listed above, consult the team of experts at Haemato Oncology Care Centre (HOCC) without any delay.

Because Blood Count Matters, Count On Us.