What Are the Dangers of a Low Blood Platelet Count?

The dangers of a low blood platelet count, or thrombocytopenia, are internal bleeding, including brain bleeds, that can become dangerous, according to Mayo Clinic. Women with thrombocytopenia have periods that are heavier than usual, and people with the condition often bleed from their noses or gums, according to WebMD. They may also have blood in their stool or urine.

Because of the internal bleeding, tiny red spots, called petechiae, may appear over the skin of the legs and feet, says WebMD. The internal bleeding also causes individuals to bruise more easily even though there seems to be no reason for the bruising.

Though there are many reasons for thrombocytopenia, including bacterial and viral infections and vitamin B-12 deficiency, one type of the disease, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, seems to have no cause, says WebMD. Doctors know that it’s an autoimmune condition where the patient’s own immune system destroys his blood platelets, or thrombocytes.

Thrombocytes are vital for good health because they help to create blood clots, which stop bleeding, says WebMD. Blood platelets only live about 10 days, so the body refreshes the stores of blood platelets continually, says Mayo Clinic. When a person is healthy, her platelet count is usually between 150,000 and 400,000. Thrombocytopenia occurs when the count falls below 150,000, says WebMD.