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Search Health Information    Thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia

Thrombocytopenia is a disorder in which there are too few platelets and the blood does not clot properly. People who have thrombocytopenia may bleed a lot from an injury because they have an abnormally low number of platelets.

Some conditions or diseases lead to thrombocytopenia because they destroy a person's platelets or interfere with their production. Certain medicines may also cause thrombocytopenia. A person who has a low platelet count with no known cause is said to have idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

Symptoms of thrombocytopenia include:

  • Easy or excessive bruising.
  • Pinpoint-sized red spots (petechiae) around the feet and ankles. In more serious cases of thrombocytopenia, the spots are larger and more widespread (purpura).
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Heavy menstrual flow.

Treatment for low platelets starts with finding a cause that can be eliminated, such as changing a drug the person is taking or treating an infection. Treatment may include platelet injections into a vein, called platelet transfusion; taking medicines to stop destruction of the platelets; taking medicine that helps the body make more platelets; or surgery to remove the spleen.

Last Revised: October 27, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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