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Thrombocytopenia

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Symptoms

Usually, thrombocytopenia has no symptoms. But when you do have them, they can include:

Bleeding, most often from the gums or nose. Women with thrombocytopenia may have heavier or longer periods or breakthrough bleeding. You may also see blood in your pee or poop.

Red, flat spots on your skin, about the size of a pinhead. You see these mostly on your legs and feet, and they may appear in clumps. Your doctor may call them petechiae.

Blotches and bruises. You might have large areas of bleeding under the skin that don't turn white when you press on them. You also might see what look like the bruises you get from a bump or being hit. They could be blue or purple and change to yellow or green over time. The difference is, these are caused from the inside, by the sudden leaking from tiny blood vessels. The medical name for these is purpura.

Severe thrombocytopenia can cause a lot of bleeding after an injury, such as a fall.

Getting a Diagnosis

Thrombocytopenia is often found by chance when your doctor does a routine blood test. He or she might ask you:

  • What symptoms have you noticed?
  • When did you first see them?
  • Does anything make them better? Or worse?
  • What medications and supplements are you taking?
  • Have you had any shots in the last month, a blood transfusion, or used drugs with a needle?
  • Does anyone in your family have a problem with their immune system, bleeding, or bruising?
  • What have you eaten recently?

Your doctor may do a physical exam to check you for bleeding and feel if your spleen seems big. Some tests check for low platelet levels:

CBC (complete blood count). This measures the amount of your red and white blood cells and platelets.

Blood smear. This shows how your platelets look under a microscope.

Bone marrow test. Your doctor may use a very fine needle to draw a small amount of liquid bone marrow and check it for cells that may not be working right. Or you may get a biopsy, using a different kind of needle, so your doctor can check the types and numbers of cells in the bone marrow.

You may need more tests to help your doctor figure out what's going on.

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