Low platelet count or thrombocytopenia, as medically termed, is the occurrence of abnormal level of platelets in the blood. Usually, a certain level of platelets in the blood is required to prevent hemorrhage from a leaking blood vessel, or external wound. The normal count of these cells in blood is about 150 to 140 million per ml of blood. Low levels of these cells can cause serious problems. If the blood platelet count falls below 10 million per ml of blood, it causes an increased risk of spontaneous bleeding, which is readily seen on skin in the form of red dots or bruises.
The possible reasons for low blood platelet count are as follows:
Inability of the person’s blood marrow to produce enough blood platelets. The normal life span of a platelet is about ten days. Thus new blood platelets are continually circulated in the blood, and dead ones removed. An abnormality that results in low production of platelets can lead to thrombocytopenia.
In some conditions the platelets are destroyed at a faster rate than production by the bone marrow, hence the low count.
A problem associated with the spleen can also be a reason for low platelet count.
Treatment for cancer, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also known to cause with low platelet count.
Illnesses like leukemia, AIDS and lymphoma affect a person’s cell counting the blood and also a reason for low platelet count.
Alcohol abuse and exposure to some chemicals can also lead to low platelet count in the blood.
The symptoms for low blood platelet count include increased bleeding during injury or menstruation in women. Spontaneous bleeding can also occur if the count is dangerously low. Appearance small rashes or purple spots might be visible due to rupture of small blood vessels under the skin or mucous membrane.
Low platelet count can be detected in blood work done as part of routine check. Treatment is done based on severity of condition. If detected generally the doctor follows it up with a complete family history. Other investigation includes history of recent infections, cancer, autoimmune disease, liver disease, enlarged spleen, and list of medications the patient is taking.
Low platelet count can be prevented by avoiding the medicines that are causative agents of thrombocytopenia. There are some medications that maybe prescribed or given intravenously to elevate the level of platelets in the blood. Other ways of treating includes giving blood transfusions.