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Platelet Count

Platelet Count

Overview

Platelets play a key role in stopping bleeding after trauma or during surgery by participating in the clotting of blood. They are produced in the bone marrow and originate from megakaryocytes, large cells found there. Platelets are minute blood cells that help the body in making clots which stop bleeding. The normal count ranges between 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter of blood. A lab test which measures the number of platelets in blood is called Platelet Count.  The lifespan of platelets is seven to ten days after which they are removed from circulation. The function of the platelets remains intact even if they decrease in number. Platelet counts upto 50,000/microliter are reasonably safe. If the count of the platelets goes below 10000/ microliter, it may result in spontaneous bleeding. The effects of low platelet counts may vary from one person to another.  

Thrombocytopenia is a condition wherein the person has significantly low levels of platelets i.e. less than 100000. If for any reason, the platelet count falls below normal, the condition is called Thrombocytopenia. The function of the platelets remains intact even if they decrease in number. Platelet counts up to 50,000/microliter are reasonably safe. The consequences of the problem can be severe especially if it is associated with organ failure. The early diagnosis and it can be effectively treated quite easily.

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic purpura is condition which usually occurs in children but can also occur in adults. In this rare condition, the platelets are destroyed by the immune system. It can be managed effectively with treatment. A number of symptoms can be seen which include:

  • Fatigue
  • Prolonged Bleeding from  Cuts
  • Jaundice may occur because of underlying cause.
  • Excess Bruising
  • Enlarged Spleen
  • Unstoppable Bleeding
  • Blood in Stool or Urine
 

A low platelet count is not a life-threatening condition. But the bleeding it may cause can be serious. A range of medical conditions may cause Thrombocytopenia. The causes can be majorly classified into three groups:

  • Increased Destruction: Some conditions in the body utilize or destroy platelets more quickly than they are produced. This causes deficiency of platelets in the blood stream. Some causes include:
    • Bacteria, Viral and protozoal infections: Infections like typhoid fever, dengue fever, malaria and kalazaar in the blood may lead to the destruction of platelets.
    • Pregnancy: Pregnancy causes slight decrease in to the platelet count which starts improving gradually after childbirth.
    • Immune Thrombocytopenia: Diseases like lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis cause this. The immune system of the body mistakenly produces antiplatelet antibodies and causes destruction of the platelets.
    • Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: The disorder leads to impairment of kidney, red blood cells and sharp fall in platelets.
    • Medications: A number of times, a drug might confuse the immune system and lead to destruction of platelets.
    • Diminished Production: Bone Marrow produces the platelets. The production may decrease due to the following:
      • Megaloblastic Anemia
      • Drugs used for cancer Chemotherapy
      • Chronic alcohol Consumption
      • Leukemia
      • Viral infections like HIV or Hepatitis C. dengue fever,
    • Sequestration: The spleen in the body fights infections and filters the undesired material in the blood. If the spleen is enlarged, it leads to platelet destruction; thus, causing a decrease in the number of platelets required for circulation
 

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