Low Blood Platelets Count: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Thrombocythemia is a condition that is generally referred to the abnormal count of blood platelets. Platelets are responsible for proper and healthy clotting of the blood and low blood platelets count may result in poor blood clotting. The usual count of blood platelets is about 150,000 to 350,000 in a micro-liter of blood. People suffering from this condition often experience bleeding after a slight injury. Bleeding may also occur even when a person is not injured and this can be life threatening at times. The count of platelets is considered to be low when they are less than 20,000.
Causes of Low Blood Platelets
This condition may be caused when the bone marrow does not produce enough platelets required by the body. Bone marrow disorders, trapped platelets and spleen enlargement are other causes for this condition. Myelofibrosis and forms of Cirrhosis can be responsible for this condition. Sometimes, lymphomas, leukemia, infections with human immunodeficiency virus like HIV that causes a drop in the platelet count may later lead to AIDS.
Systemic or Erythematosus lupus, Idiopathic or Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura and Hemolytic-uremic syndrome can affect the blood platelets count to a greater extent. Drugs like heparin, aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines and antibiotics can also cause this condition. Sometimes, alcohol can decrease the count of platelets in the blood further damaging the bone marrow. Read to know more about the causes of this condition in detail.
- Medications: Certain medications along with the above mentioned medicines may affect the immune system which can eventually lead to low platelet count. Illicit drugs, quinine, antidepressants, heparin, iodinated contrast agents, gold salts, retinoids, antimicrobials, sulfonylurea, anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, cardiac medicines, benzodiazepines and diuretics are a few medicines which result in causing this condition.
- Pregnancy: A pregnant woman may always experience low platelet count during her pregnancy as the platelets get diluted and get separated from each other. According to a study, around 5% of the women across the globe suffer from thrombocytopenia and is quite common.
- Autoimmune Diseases: These are responsible for destroying platelets in large numbers and they can further damage the immune system too. Idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) is the common autoimmune disease faced by many people that leads to a drop in the platelets. The body of a person suffering from this condition fights, attacks and destroys its own platelets mistaking them to be foreign substances. Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are the other autoimmune diseases which cause low platelet count.
- Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: This medical condition is usually caused due to the break up of red blood cells and kidney failure. This condition usually results in clumping of the platelets in the blood vessels present in the kidneys leading to the blockage of blood flow. Hemolytic uremic syndrome is considered as one of the common low platelet count causes.
- Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (TTP): This condition usually occurs due to the formation of blood vessels throughout the body leading to the fall in the platelet count. A person suffering from this condition may experience neurological changes like blindness, aphasia, convulsions, renal abnormalities, breakup of erythrocytes and fever as common symptoms.
This condition may cause bleeding in the skin and is considered as the very first symptom of low platelet count. Tiny red spots may appear on the skin of the lower legs. Slight injuries may sometimes cause scattered bruises. This may also cause bleeding gums and blood in urine or stool. It may sometimes cause bleeding in the digestive tract and in brain without any injury too. Take a look at the various other symptoms of this condition.
- Symptoms that are visible: Low blood platelet count can cause the condition of Purpura. This causes purple or red discolorations on the skin. It may sometimes cause bleeding under the skin too. Petechiae is another symptom caused due to this condition and this forms pinpoint-sized purple-reddish spots that usually look like rash. Nose bleeds and heavy periods in women are the signs of this condition. Bleeding inside the mouth including gums and cheeks are a few more symptoms of this condition.
- Symptoms that you can feel: People suffering from this condition usually feel tired during their daily activities, and for no reason. Most of them may not experience physical symptoms and most of the time they are uncertain about it. It is very important to have a check of the platelet count every month and you should see that the count of the platelets does not fall below 30,000.
- Blood transfusion is the best way to reduce the heavy bleeding that is caused due to low blood platelets count.
- The drugs causing this condition should be stopped immediately and the platelets count should be monitored frequently.
- For conditions like leukemia, treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy are done.
- Prednisone which is a type of Corticosteroid is used to prevent the bacteria from destroying the platelets and it also helps in increasing the platelets count.
Foods That Help in Improving Platelet Count
The following list of foods will help in increasing the count of blood platelets easily.
- Fish and Nuts: Both nuts and fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are considered as healthy foods, they also help in easing inflammation in your body. These foods are extremely beneficial for people suffering from low platelet count. These anti-inflammatory foods help in fighting swelling, help in encouraging the immune system and the blood to produce more platelets. Omega-3 fatty acids help in increasing blood circulation, further lowering blood pressure and its complications.
- Fruits and Garlic: Vitamin C is very important to maintain and boost up your immune system and increase blood platelets count. This vitamin is abundant in veggies and fruits, especially in citrus fruits and they help in developing the blood vessels, reducing heart diseases and improving the immune system function. Garlic is also a rich source of this vitamin and people who take blood thinning medications and suffering from anemia should be a little cautious before including garlic in their diet. A healthy immune system will always help in producing more platelets.
- Tomatoes and Berries: These foods along with nuts are rich in antioxidants and these are very helpful in fighting free radicals, cellular damage and immune system disorders. Carrots, broccoli and pumpkin are very rich sources of vitamins C and E. They act as antioxidants that help in improving healthy immune system that further generates platelets.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy, dark green vegetables that are found in soups and salads have vitamins that help in boosting the immune system. Cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, spinach and kale are rich in vitamin K that increases the production of blood platelets.
This was about low blood platelet count. People suffering from this condition can overcome it by following a healthy diet and lifestyle for a better life!