Low platelet count also known as thrombocytopenia can be caused by a variety of factors. Platelets are the blood cells that are in charge with proper coagulation of the blood and if they are not present in proper number the risk of bleeding is drastically increased. They induce the blood coagulation by accumulation on the very spot of bleeding. This way they create specific plugs in the perforated blood vessels.
Leukemia and autoimmune diseases are most commonly connected to low platelet count. Even certain medication can lead to drop in number of these blood cells. In case that the number of platelets is not so low the symptoms may not even be present. Still drastic fall in their number is almost always obvious and is very risky as it may lead to internal hemorrhage.
The good thing is that thrombocytopenia is treatable and it usually improves if the primary disease is brought under control. In cases of chronic low platelets number medications and blood transfusion are of major importance.
Causes of Low Platelet CountTrapping of Platelets in the SpleenThe spleen is abdominal organ and is located under the left part of the rib cage. The primary function of this organ is to fight against infections. It also filters certain substances present in the blood. In certain medical conditions the spleen can increase in size. Enlarged spleen becomes the place of accumulation of too many platelets which get destroyed. This is the possible cause of the low platelet count.Insufficient Production of PlateletsBone marrow is in charge with platelet production. In certain medical conditions bone marrow cannot function properly and not only that platelets are insufficiently produced, but a person may also suffer from low number of other blood cells including leukocytes and red blood cells. Leukemia and hemolytic anemia are only two conditions that can lead to improper production of platelets. Additionally, it can occur in case of viral infections, HIV, chemotherapy and so on.Increased Destruction of PlateletsFinally, platelets can be properly produced but they do not live long enough to fulfill their purpose.
Pregnant women may suffer from not severe thrombocytopenia.
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is a medical condition in which the body does not recognize platelets as normal parts of the body. Antibodies are produced and they destroy platelets. Low platelet count is also present in thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.
In autoimmune diseases low platelet count is almost always present.
Bacteriemia is another possible cause of thrombocytopenia.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome apart from thrombocytopenia is presented with increased destruction of erythrocytes and kidney failure.
And finally, certain medication such as heparin, quinidine, quinine, anticonvulsants and certain antibiotics lead to increased destruction of platelets.