Platelets are blood cells produced in the bone marrow of your body. They play an important role in the clotting of blood through a process known as hemostasis. Low platelet count can, however, affect hemostasis and cause excessive bleeding.
Platelets originate from special bone marrow cells known as megakaryocytes. They have a lifespan of seven to ten days. During this time, platelets reach the site of injury, and become activated by the release of certain chemicals. The activated cells stick together to form a clot and control the blood flow. This is essential for proper functioning of your body.
Low platelet count may occur as a result of a variety of causes including:
Low platelet count causes bleeding of nose, gums, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract bleeding. Patients may often observe blood in their stool and urine. It can also cause rash or red spots under the skin. The injured capillaries under the skin continue to bleed, and may cause fatigue and weakness caused to blood vessel rupture.
Normal platelet levels in the blood range from 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter. A blood test to measure the count of various blood cells can reveal any deficiency in platelet levels. Your doctor may also analyze your medical and family history, and perform a thorough physical examination before confirming the diagnosis.
Mild platelet deficiency can be treated with over-the-counter vitamin B-12 and folic acid supplements. Do not take these supplements without talking to a doctor as they may lead to unwanted side effects and complications. Severe cases of low platelet count may be managed by regular blood transfusions. Patients who experience reduced platelet counts due to autoimmune disorders may be prescribed corticosteroids to suppress the activity of the immune system.
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