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The main function of platelets is to prevent bleeding and maintain the red blood cells count by clotting the blood in case of wound or injury to the body. The normal platelet per microliter is between 150,000 to 350,000. Because platelets are a very tiny, they make up a very small fraction in the blood volume.
Before head on to find out about low blood platelet causes, let us get to know some symptoms of the same:
Also called as thrombocytopenia, the signs of low platelets count might include:
- Easy or excessive bruising, which is medically termed as purpura
- Cuts and wounds that would take longer time to heal
- Blood in urine or stools
- Enlarged spleen
- Heavy menstrual flows
- Bleeding gums or nose
Let us look at some of the common causes of low platelets count.
- Low platelet count causes due to Medication and substances:
Low platelet counts can be caused due to certain medicines, consuming poisonous substances, heavy alcohol drinking. It can also be caused due to drinks that contain quinine as an ingredient (tonic water for instance). The substance quinine is also found in (over-the-counter) tablets that one consumes to get relief from leg cramps. Poison that cause low platelets count include pesticides, arsenic, benzene etc. Some anti clogging medications that causes low platelets include heparin, eptifibatide, tirofiban and other glycoprotein. Prescription less drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen etc. Other seizure preventing medications and sulfonamides can also cause low platelets count.
- Low platelet count causes due to medical conditions:
There are a range of medical conditions that can cause low platelets counts. These medical conditions can be divided into 2 broad types that is, reduced production of platelets, and raised breakdown of platelets. Platelets might get trapped in great numbers by an organ called spleen, and is not secreted in the blood. This happens when the spleen is bigger than usual. This condition has its own range of medical reasons. The medical condition that causes bone marrow to produce less platelets include:
- Leukemia and other form of cancers affect the bone marrow directly, hence lesser platelets are made. These conditions are one of the major low platelets count causes.
- Some types of blood conditions called as anemia can also decrease the platelets count.
- Severe viral infections like Hepatitis C and HIV has one lower platelets counts as one of their repercussions.
- Pregnancy also destroys a small number of platelets. The condition is usually mild and does not need any treatment and returns to normalcy post pregnancy.