Thrombocytopenia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

As a biology bibliophile, you must know by now what a platelet is and how crucial it is for human beings. When this platelet count goes down to a very low level it leads to bleeding problems. Thrombocytopenia is the condition when your bone marrow doesn’t make enough platelets and the blood platelet count becomes too low to recover. Platelets are cells in the blood that form clots to assist prevent bleeding. Patients having thrombocytopenia may have excessive bleeding that is difficult to control. Thrombocytopenia is more prevalent in children than in adults, although it remains extremely rare. In children, it typically resolves itself. Many people do not recover, but therapy is rarely required.

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Thrombocytopenia in Clinical Terms 

Hemophagocytic syndrome is defined by non-malignant histiocytes that engage in uncontrolled phagocytosis of normal hematopoietic cells. The clinical severity varies from full recovery to fast deterioration and death. Platelets are important blood cells that help to coagulate blood when wounds bleed. They cluster together at the wound site to prevent bleeding. Low platelet counts can be caused by inadequate creation, destruction, or being caught in the spleen, an organ that filters blood and is located in the abdomen.


Thrombocytopenia is a condition characterized by persistent bleeding, often caused by infections like Malaria, Dengi, sepsis, nutritional deficiencies of folate, vitamin B12, and autoimmune disorders. Thrombocytopenia Causes

  • Bone marrow’s inability to produce enough platelets due to blood cancers.
  • Conditions consuming or destroying platelets cause low platelet supply.
  • Spleen-trapping platelets prevent circulation through the bloodstream, typically storing about one-third of the platelet supply.

Factors Affecting Platelet Supply:

  • Autoimmune diseases: These can destroy blood platelets by attacking the immune system.
  • Blood cancers: Leukaemia and lymphoma can damage bone marrow and impair platelet formation.
  • Cancer treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can kill stem cells that could have become platelets.
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TPP): This condition generates blood clots in tiny blood arteries, which impairs platelet supply.
  • Illnesses: Bacterial and viral illnesses can reduce platelet counts.
  • Alcohol use disorder: A lot of Alcohol consumption reduces platelet production.
  • Toxic chemicals: Pesticides, arsenic, and benzene can all have an effect on platelet counts.
  •  Medications: Antibiotics, seizures, heart-related medications, and heparin can all have an effect on platelet counts.

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Symptoms of Thrombocytopenia

Mild cases may not show symptoms, but severe cases may include bleeding on the gums, dark poop, pale urine, vomit, heavy menstrual periods, petechiae, purpura, bruises, and rectal bleeding. Symptoms may also include bleeding on the toothbrush, and hematemesis. Mild cases may not show symptoms, while severe cases may cause severe bleeding.

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How to Diagnose Thrombocytopenia?

Early detection of hemophagocytic syndrome especially during pregnancy is possible by recognizing symptoms, having a history of necrotizing lymphadenitis, and receiving a bone marrow biopsy. Healthcare providers do physical examinations for thrombocytopenia by doing tests including 

  • Check for bruises, rashes, and other symptoms.
  • Asks about medical history and medications.
  • Performs tests like Complete Blood Count (CBC), Peripheral Blood Smear under the microscope 
  • Blood Clot Test- Measures platelet levels and blood clot time.
  • Bone Marrow Biopsy: Perform bone marrow biopsy if a low platelet count is detected.

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Treatment of Thrombocytopenia 

Low platelet counts may not require immediate treatment if they are not causing significant issues. However, if excessive bleeding or other symptoms occur, urgent treatment may be necessary. Healthcare providers can improve platelet counts by treating the underlying cause, which may involve changing medications.

  • Steroids: Steroids can boost platelet production and prevent their destruction, especially in autoimmune conditions. Also, it can be given based on the severity of the patient’s condition.
  • Blood transfusions of Platelets: It is the direct transfer of platelets into the bloodstream. Platelet transfusions are used to temporarily increase the platelet count in the blood.
  • Splenectomy: It is a surgical procedure to remove the spleen, which traps large numbers of platelets and increases the risk of infections. Enlarged spleens can cause low platelet counts due to various conditions, and removing the spleen can increase the platelet count in the blood. Vaccinations may be given to prevent infections. Overall, healthcare providers can employ various treatments to improve platelet counts and prevent infections.

Low platelet count individuals should avoid medicines without a doctor’s advice, avoid sports causing severe injuries, minimize chemical contact, and limit alcohol intake. Understand medical conditions or medications that increase thrombocytopenia risk and consult a healthcare provider for recommended avoidances. 


  1. Chmait, R. H., Meimin, D. L., Koo, C. H., & Huffaker, J. (2000). Hemophagocytic syndrome in pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 95(6), 1022-1024.

Thanks for reading!

Team MBD

Watch more-Thrombocytopaenia (low platelets) Overview – platelet physiology, classification, pathophysiology – YouTube

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