Table of contents:

Why platelets are low and what to do
Why platelets are low and what to do

This can be dangerous, so it is best to see a doctor.

Why platelets are low and what to do
Why platelets are low and what to do

Why a low platelet count is dangerous

Platelets are blood cells that can form clots, or blood clots. This is how they stop bleeding from cuts and other injuries. If there are not enough platelets, the body ceases to cope with "repairing" damage. Doctors call this condition thrombocytopenia.

She is diagnosed if the number of platelets in the blood becomes below normal, that is, less than 150 thousand pieces per microliter with a healthy indicator of 150-400 thousand.

Low platelet counts can be dangerous because bleeding becomes difficult to stop. Especially serious consequences are caused by hemorrhages in the digestive tract or the brain: they can lead to disability and even death.

However, a lot depends on the symptoms and how low the platelets have dropped.

Why platelets can be low

Sometimes thrombocytopenia is inherited, from parent to child. This is not a disease, but a feature of the body.

But more often the platelet count decreases for one of three reasons.

The body retains platelets in the spleen

This happens in people with an enlarged spleen. Normally, it filters unwanted substances from the blood. But when it fails, it can retain platelets in itself.

The body produces fewer platelets than it needs

Platelets, like other blood cells, are produced in the bone marrow. Its activity and health can be affected by:

  • leukemia and other types of cancer;
  • some types of anemia;
  • persistent viral infections such as hepatitis C or HIV;
  • radiation and chemotherapy. These procedures are often prescribed in the treatment of cancer;
  • excessive alcohol consumption.

The body uses or breaks down platelets faster than normal

It happens:

  • during pregnancy, and about 5% of expectant mothers develop mild thrombocytopenia right on the eve of childbirth for unknown reasons;
  • with severe bacterial infections;
  • with autoimmune diseases, for example, with systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis;
  • with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, when bruises suddenly form all over the body, which draw off a large number of platelets;
  • with hemolytic-uremic syndrome, due to this rare disease, the number of platelets is sharply reduced, erythrocytes are destroyed and renal function is impaired;
  • Certain medications, including sulfa antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and blood thinners (anticoagulants).

How to recognize a low platelet count

Sometimes it is discovered by accident, for example, during a general blood test, to which the therapist sends the patient as part of a routine examination.

This incidentally detected thrombocytopenia may not have symptoms. But more often the lack of platelets makes itself felt by characteristic signs.

So, the first symptom is usually nosebleed or from a cut that cannot be stopped. Other common signs of a low platelet count include:

  • bleeding gums;
  • traces of blood in the stool (in this case, it looks black, tarry), urine, vomit;
  • too long and heavy menstruation in women;
  • petechiae, minor bleeding that most often appears on the legs and looks like a red or purple rash;
  • purple, purple (purple) bruises that appear easily and as if by themselves;
  • rectal bleeding.

What to do if platelets are low

See a doctor. Self-medication in this case is unacceptable and can be fatal.

Call an ambulance as soon as possible if the bleeding cannot be controlled using normal first aid methods, such as a bandage.

If you happen to find out that platelets are low, consult the doctor who gave you a referral for a complete blood count. The doctor will examine and check for threatening symptoms. In mild cases of thrombocytopenia, no treatment is required.

But if there are symptoms or the doctor assumes the risk of internal bleeding, it will be necessary to establish the causes of the pathology. The doctor will study the medical history, ask about the lifestyle and medications taken, and refer to additional studies, for example, an ultrasound scan. And then, having figured out the reason, he will give recommendations or prescribe treatment. Which one depends on the diagnosis.

For example, if you are taking anticoagulants or anticonvulsants, the healthcare provider will select a replacement drug without side effects. If anemia, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, or other medical conditions are found, you will be offered appropriate therapy. If an enlarged spleen is the cause of the lowered platelet count, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove it.

In the case of extreme thrombocytopenia, when the platelet count is below 10 thousand per microliter, blood transfusion or purification (plasmapheresis) will be required. These procedures will need to be carried out urgently, because this condition is deadly.