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What are the treatments for purpura?

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Quick Answer

Treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura can include platelet monitoring, medication and surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. The patient's age and the severity of the symptoms determine the appropriate treatment for ITP.

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Full Answer

The majority of children with ITP recover with no treatment, with about 80 percent making a full recovery within six months of onset, and even many who develop chronic ITP eventually recover without requiring treatment, reports Mayo Clinic. Likewise, in adults, mild cases of ITP may only require platelet monitoring.

If symptoms are more severe, the first line of treatment is a corticosteroid medication, such as prednisone, Mayo Clinic advises. These medications decrease immune system activity in order to raise platelet levels. A typical course is two to six weeks. Other medications that doctors sometimes prescribe include intravenous immune globulin, which can raise blood levels quickly when needed, such as for surgery; romiplostim and eltrombopag, which help bone marrow produce more platelets; and rituximab, which decreases immune system response.

If symptoms do not respond to medication, splenectomy, or the surgical removal of the spleen, is sometimes an option, according to Mayo Clinic. This provides an immediate increase in platelet count, though living without a spleen makes a person more susceptible to infection. As with any surgery, surgical complications are also possible. Splenectomy used to be a routine treatment for ITP but is performed more rarely today. In particular, it is not generally performed on children, due to their high rate of recovery without treatment.

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