Thrombocytopenia, the lack of platelets in the blood, can result from a variety of causes. Thrombocytopenia often only occurs in a weak form that does not require treatment, since the body can usually regulate the deficiency itself. The different types of thrombocytopenia have different symptoms and treatment options.
What is thrombocytopenia?
Thrombocytopenia refers to an insufficient number of blood platelets, so-called thrombocytes, in the blood. While the human body normally has about 150,000 – 450,000 thrombocytes per µl of blood, this value is undershot in thrombocytopenia. A distinction is made between congenital, acquired and artificially caused thrombocytopenia, with congenital thrombocytopenia occurring only rarely. For dna dictionary definitions, please visit foodanddrinkjournal.com.
Small deviations from the normal number of platelets usually do not lead to any noticeable damage in the body. However, if the number of thrombocytes falls far below this, visible damage and failure symptoms can occur at around 10,000 thrombocytes per µl of blood or even less.
The causes of thrombocytopenia are different. One cause can be that the bone marrow is not able to produce enough platelets or that the body’s immune system is attacking the platelets. Also, a possible cause is an enlarged spleen, which is filtering out too many platelets.
Since the spectrum of causes of thrombocytopenia is very large, they are generally divided into 3 categories: formation disorders, accelerated breakdown of thrombocytes and distribution disorders. In many cases, thrombocytopenia is not chronic, but only occurs temporarily until the body has regulated the deficiency by itself.
Severe thrombocytopenia occurs in most cases in connection with autoimmune diseases, chemotherapy or the use of special medication and should be observed by a doctor and treated if necessary.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Thrombocytopenia does not make itself felt with general signs in the initial phase. Even with significantly reduced blood values, the patients initially show no disturbance of well-being. A typical symptom of the disease is the bleeding behavior in small cuts, abrasions or scratches.
The too low values of the blood platelets slow down the natural closure of the skin vessels. While five to six minutes are normal for healthy people, it takes two to three times longer for those affected. Some of the sufferers often tend to nose or gum bleeding.
Other common complaints are small, red dots and bloody spots in the subcutaneous tissue. Others get conspicuously quick bruises, which show up even with harmless impacts. In women, there is an additional specific symptom profile. Here it is the period that is sometimes stronger than usual.
If the laboratory data for the platelets are noticeably low, the tendency to bleed can increase significantly. In these less common cases, bleeding mucous membranes form. In severe cases, they lead to dangerous gastrointestinal and other internal bleeding. Patients recognize this from the colored stool or urine. Individual cases of cerebral hemorrhage are immediately life-threatening.
The various symptoms of thrombocytopenia spread at different rates. It largely depends on which diseases of the patient are associated with the disorder.
Diagnosis & History
Depending on the degree of thrombocytopenia, the body presents various symptoms. In the case of small deviations, the body usually shows no tendency to bleed, but in individual cases there can be increased bleeding in connection with injuries.
In the case of advanced thrombocytopenia, bruises, so-called microtraumas, occur more frequently, as well as punctiform skin bleeding on sensitive parts of the body. Severe thrombocytopenia is characterized primarily by frequent spontaneous bleeding of the skin and mucous membranes.
Depending on the type of thrombocytopenia, bleeding in the brain and intestines, venous and arterial thrombosis, or even infarction and pulmonary embolism can occur without treatment.
In general, thrombocytopenia has a very negative effect on the patient’s everyday life and quality of life. However, the exact symptoms and complications of this disease depend very much on the severity of the thrombocytopenia. Those affected primarily suffer from bruises or bruises. These can occur in different parts of the body and possibly also lead to aesthetic problems for the patient.
Furthermore, those affected often suffer from bleeding gums or nosebleeds and are thus restricted in their everyday life. Inflammation or pain can also occur. Furthermore, the thrombocytopenia increases the risk of a heart attack or an embolism, so that the person affected can also die from these symptoms. However, this case occurs only very rarely.
The treatment of thrombocytopenia always depends on the cause. As a rule, no particular complications arise and the symptoms can be limited. Transfusions may also be necessary. However, the further course depends heavily on the underlying disease. It cannot be universally predicted whether the patient’s life expectancy will be reduced due to thrombocytopenia.
When should you go to the doctor?
If repeated nosebleeds or hematomas form, thrombocytopenia may be the cause. A doctor’s visit is indicated if the symptoms appear without a reason or other symptoms such as blood in the stool, urine or coughing occur. Medical advice is required if bleeding cannot be stopped, punctiform bleeding occurs in the skin or if you feel generally unwell. Patients at risk include people who have had a blood transfusion, who suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome or a connective tissue disease.
Drugs, infections, or medical complications such as sepsis can also cause thrombocytopenia. Every 20th pregnant woman suffers from asymptomatic thrombocytopenia in the last trimester, which also needs to be investigated and treated promptly. Thrombocytopenia is treated by the general practitioner or cardiologist. In the case of serious illnesses such as sepsis or rickettsial infections, the emergency doctor must be called. Because those affected suffer from anemia, rapid response is required to prevent major health complications.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment for thrombocytopenia depends on the underlying cause. Thrombocytopenia that occurs only acutely resolves itself after a few weeks and is usually not treated. Acute thrombocytopenia, on the other hand, can last for several years and is classified and treated based on the cause, the degree of bleeding and the platelet count.
The treatment of thrombocytopenia focuses on stopping the bleeding of the skin and mucous membranes using medication and reducing factors that promote bleeding, as well as increasing the number of thrombocytes so that no new bleeding occurs. If the symptoms indicate a frequent tendency to bleed, hospitalization and observation is recommended. If internal bleeding is suspected or if chronic bleeding occurs, emergency treatment may be required.
Platelets added to the bloodstream are transfused for severe chronic symptoms. The removal of the spleen is also a possible therapy, although the removal of organs is increasingly being rejected due to long-term risks and susceptibility to infection. Another possibility is the administration of special antibodies or synthetic peptides that stimulate the formation of platelets.
There are currently no known preventive measures for thrombocytopenia. In severe cases of thrombocytopenia, however, early detection and early treatment of symptoms can help to regulate platelet deficiency as quickly as possible.
A doctor should be consulted if spontaneous bleeding occurs more frequently than normal, such as nosebleeds and bleeding gums or small, punctate skin bleeding on the body. The possibility of thrombocytopenia increases particularly in connection with pregnancy, taking heparin to inhibit blood clotting and during chemotherapy.
In most cases, sufferers of thrombocytopenia have only limited follow-up measures available because it is a rare disease. If the disease has been present since birth, it can usually not be completely cured. Therefore, if the person concerned wants to have children, they should have a genetic examination and counseling carried out in order to prevent the disease from reoccurring.
As a rule, no independent healing can occur. Most of those affected require surgical intervention. After such a procedure, the patient should definitely rest and rest his body, observing strict bed rest and avoiding any stressful or physical activities.
In many cases, the support and help of one’s own family is also necessary to prevent depression or mental disorders. It cannot be universally predicted whether thrombocytopenia will lead to a reduced life expectancy for those affected. Contact with other people affected by the disease is often useful, as this can lead to an exchange of information.
You can do that yourself
A balanced diet helps to increase the number of platelets noticeably. Fresh vegetables and fruit stimulate your own production of new blood cells. Foods such as oranges, tomatoes, kiwis and green vegetables have a particularly positive effect. In contrast, processed foods, such as sugar and flour, as well as cookies and soda, interfere with the body’s important clotting function.
High-quality omega-3 fatty acids can stimulate blood platelet production. It is therefore particularly recommended to increase the consumption of fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel, rapeseed oil or linseed oil, as well as the consumption of eggs and nuts. In order to increase platelets, those affected should also pay attention to their drink consumption. It is particularly recommended to avoid alcohol and avoid caffeinated drinks. Instead, lukewarm water stimulates nutrient absorption in the body. As a result, a higher amount of blood cells is produced. Green tea, white ginseng and olive leaves also have a positive effect on the production of blood platelets.
In addition to a balanced diet, sport can stimulate the production of platelets. Exercise strengthens the immune system and the circulatory system. This helps the body to produce the necessary blood platelets more easily. However, it is important to choose the sport carefully. Because patients tend to bleed profusely. For this reason, contact sports should be avoided. Gentle endurance training is better.