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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Decreased platelet production

Decreased platelet production is usually related to a bone marrow problem. In some of these conditions, red blood cell and white blood cell productions may also be affected.

  • Viral infections affecting the marrow for example
  • Aplastic anemia is a general term used when the bone marrow fails to produce any blood cells (red cells, white cells, and platelets), also called pancytopenia. This can be caused by some viral infections (parvovirus or HIV), medications (gold, chloramphenicol, phenytoin [Dilantin], valproate [Depakote]), or radiation, or rarely, it can be congenital (Fanconi's anemia).
  • Chemotherapy drugs frequently cause bone marrow suppression resulting in thrombocytopenia.
  • Some drugs other than chemotherapy can suppress platelet production, such as thiazide diuretics.
  • Cancers of the bone marrow and blood (leukemia) or cancers of the lym ph nodes (lymphoma) can cause various degrees of thrombocytopenia.
  • Cancers from other organs can sometimes infiltrate (invade) the bone marrow and result in impaired production of platelets.
  • Long term alcohol can cause direct toxicity of the bone marrow.
  • Deficiency of vitamin B12 and folic acid can result in low platelet production by the bone marrow.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/1/2016

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