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    Thrombocytopenia and ITP

    What Are Thrombocytopenia and ITP?

    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 or spontaneously in your eyes, gums, or bladder.

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    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.

    Read the Thrombocytopenia article > >

    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


    • Medication side effects, including drugs for heart problems, seizures, and infections
    • Heparin, a blood thinner used to prevent blood clots
    • Chemotherapy

    Work with your doctor to figure out if a drug is causing your platelet count to drop. He may be able to adjust your dose or change your medication.

    Other Treatments

    Medical Conditions

    • Blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma
    • A problem with your bone marrow, like toxicity from alcohol use
    • Vitamin B12 or folate (vitamin B9) deficiency
    • 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.
    • An enlarged spleen
    • Your body uses too many platelets, leaving you without enough of them. That can happen if you have an autoimmune disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
    • Rare disorders like hemolytic uremic syndrome and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), [LB5] [AC6] which uses a lot of platelets to make small blood clots throughout your body.
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