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What does low platelets mean and what major illnesses is it linked to?

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Quick Answer

The medical term used for a low platelet count is thrombocytopenia. Platelets are small blood cells in the blood that help it to clot properly. A normal platelet count is given as 150,000 to 400,000 platelets per microliter, and a count lower than 150,000 is considered thrombocytopenia, according to MedicineNet.

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Having thrombocytopenia can mean that a person bleeds more easily, and this can lead to complications. Some illnesses or medical conditions that can be linked to a low platelet count are an immune disorder, infections and hemolytic uremic syndrome, reports Mayo Clinic. Some other conditions that may cause this problem are leukemia, bone marrow infection and aplastic anemia, relates MedlinePlus.

Besides illnesses, an other cause for this condition can be a deficiency in vitamin B12. Similarly, certain medications can also cause a low platelet count. Some other causes can be an enlarged spleen or that bone marrow is not producing sufficient amounts of platelets.

Some symptoms associated with thrombocytopenia are easily bruising and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Because there are so many possible illnesses or causes for thrombocytopenia, doctors need to pinpoint the exact underlying problem that is causing it and provide treatment. People who have bleeding issues may also require a platelet transfusion to address the problem.

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