Thrombocytopenia means you don't have enough platelets, cells in your blood that stick together to help it clot. It might not cause you any health problems at all. But if you do have symptoms like bleeding too much, treatments can help.
A healthy person usually has a platelet count of 150,000 to 400,000. You have thrombocytopenia if your number falls under 150,000.
If you're wondering what the long name means, here's how it breaks down: "Thrombocytes" are your platelets and "penia" means you don't have enough of something. Put those terms together, and you get "thrombocytopenia."
There are many causes of thrombocytopenia. Your doctor may tell you that you have a form of the condition called immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), which is one of the most common causes of low platelets in people who do not have symptoms. You may hear it referred to by its old name, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Although doctors don't know what causes ITP, they know that it happens when your immune system -- your body's main defense against disease -- doesn't work right. Your antibodies, which are supposed to attack infections, instead mistakenly destroy your platelets.
Thrombocytopenia can run in families, but you can also get it from many medical conditions. Treating the medical condition may improve ITP.
Your body might have fewer platelets because of these causes:
Viral infections, including chickenpox, parvovirus, hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr, and HIV
Sepsis, a severe bacterial infection in your blood
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacteria that can live in your digestive system
Pregnancy. Up to 5% of healthy women get it during pregnancy, and it usually gets better on its own after your baby is born. But it can also be a sign of something more concerning, like preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome.