Thrombocytopenia and ITP
Questions for Your Doctor
- What's causing the problem?
- What are my treatment options? Which do you recommend?
- Do these treatments have side effects? What can I do about them?
- How will we know if the treatment is working?
- When will I start to feel better?
- What do you expect for my case?
- Does this condition put me at risk for anything else?
- Do I need to see a specialist?
There are a lot of treatment options for thrombocytopenia and ITP. You'll need to work with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons of each and find a therapy that's right for you.
If you have ITP, your treatment depends on how severe a case you have. If it's mild, you may only need to get regular checks of your platelet levels.
When you do need treatment, the goal is to get your platelet count to a level that's high enough to prevent serious bleeding in the gut or brain.
Your doctor will likely suggest these treatments first:
Corticosteroids. Prednisone is the most common one used to treat ITP. Doctors prescribe it to try to raise your platelet count. You typically take it once a day in the form of a pill or tablet.
Usually you take prednisone until your platelet level improves, typically within 1 or 2 weeks. Your doctor will then likely gradually reduce your dose over the next 4 to 8 weeks.
There are some side effects to prednisone, especially if you use it for a long time. Even after a short time, you can get irritable, have stomach upsets, and have other problems such as:
- Puffy cheeks
- Need to pee often
- Lower bone density
Besides side effects, another disadvantage to prednisone is that your platelet count may drop once you've finished your treatment.
Surgery. If you have ITP and other treatments haven't raised your platelet levels enough, you may benefit from an operation to remove your spleen. That's the organ that destroys your platelets, so taking it out can give your platelet count a boost. But this doesn't always work.