Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Author: Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What are the symptoms of thrombocytopenia?

In many instances, thrombocytopenia may have no symptoms, especially if mild, and it can be detected only incidentally on routine blood work done for other reasons. However, the symptoms and signs of thrombocytopenia may include:

  • Superficial bleeding into the skin resulting in small reddish spots (petechiae)
  • Fatigue
  • Easy or excessive bruising (purpura)
  • Prolonged bleeding cuts
  • Spontaneous bleeding from the gums or nose
  • Jaundice
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding that's unusual for the individual
  • Blood in the urine or stools
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • DVT (deep vein thrombosis)

What causes thrombocytopenia?

Low platelet counts or thrombocytopenia, can be caused by a variety of reasons. In general, they can be divided into:

  1. decreased platelet production,
  2. increased platelet destruction or consumption, or
  3. increased splenic sequestration (capturing of circulating platelets in the spleen).

Some of the most common and important causes of thrombocytopenia are outlined below.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/1/2016

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