Platelets are tiny cells that are a part of the circulatory system. They are needed to help stop bleeding, and platelet transfusions have saved thousands of lives. Platelets can also clog blood vessels, leading to heart attack or stroke. If you’re diagnosed with a blood-clotting disorder, your platelet count could be dangerously low. However, the severity of this condition can vary from person to person.
What is the platelet count that is considered dangerous, resulting in death for a person?
Platelets are an essential part of the body, helping blood clot and regulating blood flow throughout the body. Normal platelet counts range anywhere from 150,000 to 400,000. When the platelet count drops below 20,000, the patient may have spontaneous bleeding that may result in death. Platelets are important in the clotting process, even when there is an excess number of platelets in the body. This usually occurs when the body loses too much blood or platelets.
Knowing More About Platelets
Platelets are cells in your body that help your blood form clots, and when you’re bleeding, you need to clot up the wound. Platelets also help your blood clot, and when this is impaired, the bleeding doesn’t stop. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are made up of two proteins: GPIbα and GPIb. When these proteins clump together, they form a platelet plug. Platelets are responsible for helping to stop bleeding, and when platelet counts drop too low, bleeding can result.
A low platelet count (< 100,000) may appear as a bruise that won’t heal or bleeding from any orifice. A patient with a low platelet count may also experience internal bleeding (hemorrhage), or bleeding between the cells, especially in bone marrow, muscles, or the gastrointestinal tract. This list only highlights some of the more common symptoms of a low platelet count. Other symptoms can include fever, fatigue, bleeding gums, easy bruising, unexplained weight loss, pale skin, pale stools, dark urine, and sore throat.
The Blood Platelet Disorders
Platelets are an important part of our blood. They aid in clot creation, as well as help form new capillaries. When platelets are abnormally shaped or damaged, patients may experience health problems.
There are three main blood platelet disorders, known as
ThrombocytopeniaThrombocytopenia is one of the blood platelet disorders. A blood platelet is a large cell that is responsible for clotting blood. Thrombocytopenia is the complete or partial decrease in the count of blood platelets.
Thrombocytopenia (or thrombocytopenia) is a decrease in the amount of platelets in the blood (thrombocythemia). Platelets are bits of cells in the blood that aid in stopping bleeding. People with thrombocytopenia often complain of prolonged bleeding, bruising easily, bleeding from the nose or gums, or excessive bleeding from cuts and scrapes.
Thrombocytosis is a condition in which there are too many platelets in the bloodstream. The excess platelets form clots which lead to many health problems. Thrombocytosis is a common blood disorder. In a normal person, the number of platelets in the blood is between 150,000 and 400,000. However, in thrombocytopenic patients, the number is abnormally low.
Thrombocytosis is an abnormal increase in the number of platelets in the bloodstream. It is a rare blood disorder usually seen in people with cancer. Hereditary thrombocytopenic purpura is among the most commonly known blood platelet development and function disorders. Thrombocytes are a critical component of hemostasis or the cellular mechanism for stopping bleeding. Platelets, which are small oval-shaped cells, form the weak edges of a clot. When platelets clump together, they form a platelet plug, or thrombus, in the blood vessel. Thrombocytes also participate in a process called platelet aggregation, which induces blood coagulation or the formation of blood clots.
Megaloblastic anemia is a type of anemia characterized by low red blood cell production, leading to a body in which red blood cells become smaller, less dense, and more vulnerable to damage. People with megaloblastic anemia have low hemoglobin (Hb) values, and a Hb level below 11 grams per deciliter (g/dL) is referred to as microcytic. (Normal adult hemoglobin levels are between 13 and 16 g/dL in men and 13 to 18 g/dL in women.)
Megaloblastic anemia is one of the blood platelet disorders in which megaloblastic cells (mega means large) outnumber red blood cells. The red cells do not completely develop and cannot meet the body’s need for oxygen. This type of anemia occurs because of low iron in the blood. The disease may be inherited or acquired.
Blood platelets are our body’s clotting cells. How they clump together (stick) together to form clots is part of their function. Unfortunately, platelets can also clump together in ways that cause bleeding or platelet disorders. The word “disorder” is used because these platelet clumps can be temporary (called a transient disorder) or longer-term (chronic disorder). Transient platelet disorders affect fewer platelets and occur much more commonly. Chronic platelet disorder affects more platelets and occurs less frequently.
Treating Low Platelet Count
Platelets are the tiny cells in the blood that help it clot, and your platelet count is the number of them you have. Low platelet count is an indicator of large, damaged, or immature platelets and can cause a variety of symptoms. Luckily, treatments are available to help relieve them.
Here are some of the treatments:
Platelet or blood transfusions
Blood transfusions can help reverse a low blood platelet count. Platelets help stop bleeding in the aftermath of an injury and help stop bleeding inside the body. When platelets are in short supply, a person’s blood is more likely to clot (or become thick). Platelet transfusions replace low levels of platelets in the blood and can help a person return to health.
Platelet transfusions mean Platelets are injected into your bloodstream intravenously to help fight infection and bleeding. Red blood cells help deliver oxygen to all of your organs and tissues. White blood cells help your body fight against infections and cell damage. Platelet transfusions are sometimes recommended when a patient’s platelet count is low. Platelets are blood components that control bleeding. Generally, a platelet transfusion is given when a patient has a platelet count of less than 50,000.
Change of Medication
If you are experiencing a low platelet count, you may wonder if there is anything you can do to bring your platelet count up. One of the first tactics your doctor may recommend is switching to a new medication or changing doses of your current medication. Doctors typically do not recommend changing medications for a low platelet count unless the current medications are causing side effects.
Some of these medications, such as steroids, can be harmful to your body, which is why doctors often prescribe other drugs. One such medication commonly prescribed for treating a low platelet count is cyclosporine (Neoral). But there’s a problem with some medications: they may not be safe for everyone.
Low platelet counts can occur for a variety of reasons, and not everyone with a low platelet count needs treatment. People taking cyclosporine for autoimmune disorders, kidney disease, uveitis, or psoriasis are most likely to need treatment, and people who have low platelet counts due to liver disease or leukemia may also need treatment.
Spleen Removal Surgery
The spleen is a butterfly-shaped organ located on the lower right side of the abdomen. It is the largest organ in the lymphatic system and filters blood to remove bacteria, viruses, and damaged blood cells. The spleen also helps fight certain types of cancer.
The spleen is essentially a container that filters the blood from our body. It’s designed to remove bacteria, parasites, and other potential causes of disease. In reality, the spleen does very little of that. The spleen produces blood cells, not white blood cells, which it does out of need, not out of choice. It’s the body’s way of ensuring that the immune system remains strong and healthy.
A low platelet count (also called thrombocytopenia) can cause more than dizziness and weakness. It can be a sign of a serious disease, so treatment is critical. Your doctor may recommend a spleen removal surgery or splenectomy. Doctors remove the spleen, an organ in your abdomen that is primarily responsible for filtering your blood and fighting infection during the procedure. If you don’t have a spleen, your immune system begins to weaken, and your immune system becomes unable to fight off infections.
There are a number of different causes of thrombocytopenia, and the treatments for a low platelet count depend on the specific reason. Some reasons, like ITP, are temporary and therefore do not require treatment. However, others—like certain cancers—may require chemotherapy.
What Should You Do If You Are At Risk Of Developing Low Platelet Count?
A low platelet count—also called thrombocytopenia—is a medical condition characterized by a low number of platelets in the blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.9 to 2.6 million Americans have low platelet counts. The good news is that most people with low platelet counts have no symptoms, and the condition is often discovered upon routine blood tests. However, in rare cases, low platelet counts may be a sign of other serious conditions, so anyone diagnosed with low platelet counts should consult a doctor right away.
Also, here are some of the prevention measures for you to take:
- Avoid toxic chemicals. One of the obvious measures in preventing low platelet counts is to avoid toxic chemicals as one of the measures in preventing low platelet counts. There are a number of things people can do to increase their platelet count, ranging from simple lifestyle changes to more intensive treatments. Low platelet counts used to be a problem only found in older individuals. We see this condition in younger patients, especially those with a history of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Get certain types of vaccinations. The relationship between platelets and viral infections like hepatitis, hepatitis B, or HIV is not new to medicine. If you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, then your doctor may even check your platelet count before prescribing you any drugs. And before you assume that your doctor has neglected to warn you that lower platelets may increase your risk of a viral infection, think again. There are certain types of vaccinations that your doctor can prescribe you as one of the measures in preventing low platelet counts since they are believed to increase platelet levels.
- Stop or switch medications that affect platelets. For most diseases, the body’s immune system fights the battle to restore health to our bodies. Platelets are a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in this fight by conducting the clotting process. When platelets are abnormally low, the blood can form clots too easily when it’s not supposed to. Low platelet counts are a common side effect of many chemotherapy medications that doctors prescribe to cancer patients. These clots can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, bleeding complications.
- Make a dietary change. Although the cause of low platelet count is not well known, a person is prone to become a victim of low platelet count in some foods. Although dietary change is one of the measures in preventing low platelet counts, in some cases, the dietary change does not help. Therefore, it is of importance to carry out some investigations to help determine the cause of low platelet counts.
- Limit or avoid alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol at social events or while out to dinner with your friends may seem like harmless fun, but it’s actually harmful to your health. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to reduced platelets, which decreases your likelihood of forming blood clots. A low platelet count can increase your risk of bleeding, which can increase your risk of internal bleeding and organ failure.
- Avoid activities that may put you at risk of bruising or bleeding. If you suffer from low platelet counts, avoid activities that might cause bruising or bleeding as one of the measures in preventing low platelet counts.
The risk of low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) increases with age. If you have severe bleeding problems, you may have more than one person lose platelet counts at a time. If you have certain chronic disorders, you may be at higher risk. Better consult your doctor to be able to manage the risk.
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