Thrombocytopenia: definition, causes, symptoms, so what is it?

Thrombocytopenia: definition, causes, symptoms, so what is it?

Thrombocytopenia is when there is an alarming decline in the amount of blood platelets.

Definition: what is thrombocytopenia?

Thrombocytopenia is the phenomenon referring to a reduction in the amount of blood platelets to less than 150,000 per cubic millimeter of blood.

Blood platelets, or thrombocytes, are the cells that are found in the bone marrow. Their role is essential to blood clotting because they aid in primary hemostasis which is the first phase of the hemostasis process that stops the body from bleeding out. Platelets are responsible for blood clots (thrombus) forming, which stop bleeding inside the body.

Symptoms of thrombocytopenia

The main symptom of thrombocytopenia is bleeding. When this happens under the skin, it is known as thrombocytopenic purpura and it causes small, flat, red spots or patches (petechiae) to appear under the skin. In comparison to breakouts caused by measles or rubella, they do not disappear if pressed with a finger. These “pin points” can be accompanied by bruising.

Hemorrhagic syndrome can also lead to frequent nose bleeds, bleeding around the gums, retinal bleeding (behind the eye) or bleedings in the alimentary tract.

Causes of thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia can be explained by a decline in the production of platelets by the bone marrow or even by a considerable destruction of cells present in the blood.

Various things can be the cause of this phenomenon such as an autoimmune disease, leukemia, damages to the blood marrow, cancer, an infection, septicemia, a vitamin B12 deficiency or taking certain medication.

Treating thrombocytopenia

Mild and transient thrombocytopenia doesn’t necessarily need treatment. In cases when the bleeding is severe, blood platelets can be transfused. The cause of thrombocytopenia must be identified in order to be able to treat the cause at the source.

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It should be noted that certain medication are strongly prohibited because they can worsen the working conditions of the platelets even more.  This is especially the case with aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.

Anna Wilkins
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