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Thrombocytopenia is a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of Thrombocytes, also known as Platelets, in the blood.

Platelets are tiny blood cells that circulate within our blood that help blood clot. They stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs in blood vessel injuries.

A normal platelet counts ranges from 1,50,000 to 4,50,000 platelets per microliter of blood. In cases of Thrombocytopenia that would require emergency treatment, the platelet count is below 50,000 per microliter.

Thrombocytopenia is often a result of a separate disorder, such as Leukaemia or an immune system problem or a side effect of taking certain medications. The condition affects both adults and children.

Thrombocytopenia may be mild and cause a few signs or symptoms. In some rare cases, the number of platelets may be so low that internal bleeding might occur that can be dangerous. Treatment options are available.


The main symptom of Thrombocytopenia is bleeding. An affected person can bleed outside or inside the body.

The common symptoms are:

  • Easy or excessive bruising, also known as Purpura
  • Superficial bleeding into the skin that appears as a rash in the form of reddish-purple spots, usually on the lower legs
  • Prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • Bleeding from the gums or nose
  • Unusually heavy menstrual flows
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Jaundice

Consult a doctor if there are any warning signs. Also, seek immediate help if bleeding cannot be controlled by usual first-aid techniques such as applying pressure to the area.


The platelets are blood cells that are made in the bone marrow (the spongy tissues inside bones) and Thrombocytopenia is a condition that occurs when the bone marrow cannot make enough of them, or if they’re destroyed faster than they can be made. Normally, each platelet lives for only about 10 days, and the bone marrow continually renews the platelet supply by producing new platelets.

The bone marrow might not be able to make platelets if the affected person has:

  • A blood disorder called Aplastic Anaemia that affects the bone marrow (For more information, read FAQs on Aplastic Anaemia)
  • Blood Cancers, such as Leukaemia or Lymphoma, which damages the bone marrow (For more information, read FAQs on Leukaemia and Lymphoma)
  • An inherited platelet-lowering condition, like Wiskott-Aldrich or May-Hegglin Syndrome
  • Viruses such as Chickenpox, Mumps, Rubella, HIV, or Epstein-Barr

Some other causes that either destroy or damage platelets:

  • Treatment for various cancers, such as Chemotherapy or Radiation destroys the stem cells that form platelets.
  • Contact with chemicals like pesticides and arsenic also slows down the process of making platelets.
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus or Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) (For more information, read FAQs on Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or ITP)
  • Rare diseases that make blood clots form in the body, such as Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) and Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC). (For more information, read FAQs on Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or TTP and FAQs on Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation or DIC).

Some cases of Thrombocytopenia are a result of platelets getting trapped in the spleen, an organ that fights infection. And women during pregnancy may also be affected because their bodies get rid of platelets more quickly than usual.


The following tests may be used to diagnose the condition:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): If the platelet count is less than 1,50,000 per microliter of blood, indicates the existence of the condition.
  • Physical Exam: The doctor would look for signs of bleeding under the skin and feel the abdomen to check for enlargement of the spleen.

Further, the doctor may ask for other tests based on the signs and symptoms.


People with mild Thrombocytopenia might not need treatment.

For severe Thrombocytopenia, depending on the cause of low platelet count, the treatments might include:

  • Treating the underlying cause of Thrombocytopenia: For example, if the Thrombocytopenia is heparin-induced, the doctor will stop the heparin and prescribe a different blood thinning drug.
  • Blood or Platelets Transfusion
  • Steroid medicines – to stop the body from destroying platelets
  • Surgery – to remove the spleen