Thrombocytopenia – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is thrombocytopenia?
Thrombocytopenia is a blood disorder characterized by abnormally low levels of thrombocytes. Thrombocytes are also known as platelets. Thrombocytes or platelets are part of the blood that helps blood to clot. This condition is sometimes associated with abnormal bleeding.
What causes thrombocytopenia?
Thrombocytopenia is caused by abnormally low amount of platelets in the blood. Low level of platelets is caused mainly by:
- Decreased production of platelets by the bone marrow
- Increased destruction of platelets in the bloodstream
- Increased breakdown of platelets in the spleen or liver.
The following conditions may lead to decreased production of platelets by bone morrow:
- Folate deficiency
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Aplastic anemia
- Cirrhosis (liver scarring)
- Infections in the bone marrow (very rare)
- Cancer in the bone marrow, such as leukemia
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (bone marrow produces fewer blood cells or produces defective cells)
- Chemotherapy and use of certain other drugs
The following health conditions can cause increased destruction of platelets:
- Disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting become overactive
- Drug-induced low platelet count
- Swollen spleen
- Disorder in which the immune system destroys platelets (ITP)
- Disorder that causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels, causing a low platelet count (TTP)
What are the symptoms of thrombocytopenia?
You may not have any symptoms if the condition is mild. Symptoms, if they occur, depend on the cause. The following are some of the common symptoms:
- Bleeding in the mouth and gums
- Rash (pinpoint red spots called petechia)
How is thrombocytopenia diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and review your symptoms and medical history. If the doctor suspects thrombocytopenia, the following tests may be done:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Blood clotting tests (PTT and PT)
- Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy.
How is thrombocytopenia treated?
Treatment of thrombocytopenia depends on the cause of the condition. In some cases, the doctor may recommend a platelet transfusion to stop or prevent bleeding.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.