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Why would someone's blood platelets be low?

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Quick Answer

A patient with abnormally low blood platelet count displays a condition called thrombocytopenia, according to Mayo Clinic. Thrombocytopenia, with symptoms of abnormal bruising or bleeding, can be diagnosed by a blood test or physical exam. A normal blood platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per micrometer of circulating blood, but a patient with the disorder has less than 150,000.

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Full Answer

Tracking down the exact cause of thrombocytopenia requires looking at the rate of platelet production in comparison to the rate of platelet destruction throughout the body, states Mayo Clinic. Doctors analyze the retention of platelets within the spleen by checking the size of the spleen for enlargement. They screen for diseases that affect the bone marrow production of platelets, such as leukemia and anemia, and viral infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus. Doctors determine whether the body is breaking down the platelets faster than it is producing them due to other existing conditions, such as pregnancy or prescription medication.

Although the condition is treatable, mild cases of thrombocytopenia may not require any treatment, explains Mayo Clinic. However, severe cases require choosing a treatment option. A dangerously low platelet count is treated by blood transfusion. Corticosteroids are prescribed for extensive bruising caused by idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, an autoimmune disease that causes the destruction of platelets by the antibodies.

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