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Thrombocytopenia

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What Is Thrombocytopenia?

If you have thrombocytopenia, you don’t have enough platelets in your blood. Platelets help your blood clot, which stops bleeding.

For most people, it's not a big problem. But if you have a severe form, you can bleed too much when you’re injured.

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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."

Causes

Thrombocytopenia happens when your body makes too few platelets, or the platelets you have are trapped in the spleen, or they are destroyed.

It can run in families. But you can also get it from many medical conditions and some drugs.

Your body might make fewer platelets when you:

  • Have a viral infection including chickenpox, parvovirus, hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr, mononucleosis, and HIV
  • Have a severe bacterial infection in your blood
  • Have a blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • Have aplastic anemia, a problem with your bone marrow
  • Have a rare disorder called hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • Are taking chemotherapy drugs
  • Are getting radiation on your bone marrow
  • Drink a lot of alcohol
  • Have vitamin B12 or folate (vitamin B9) deficiency
  • Have miliary tuberculosis (miliary TB)

If your spleen is enlarged, that can trap platelets, and they won't move through your body.

Sometimes your immune system, which is supposed to fight off disease, attacks healthy cells. When it attacks your platelets, that's called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

In other cases, your body just uses too many platelets, leaving you without enough of them. That can happen if you have an autoimmune disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. The same is true if you have thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), which uses a lot of platelets to make small blood clots throughout your body.

Your blood platelets can also be destroyed because of:

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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