Pathology Laboratory

Normal Platelet Count

The normal platelet count ranges between 150,000 and 450,000 per microliter (one-millionth of a litre). The life cycle of platelets is usually about 7-10 days.

What is the Normal Platelet Count?

Platelets (thrombocytes) are important elements in the blood that are important for blood coagulation (clotting and prevention of bleeding). Thrombocytopenia refers to having a low platelet count in the blood compared to the normal range.

  • The normal platelet count ranges between 150,000 and 450,000 per microliter (one-millionth of a litre).
  • Only about 2/3 of platelets released into the bloodstream circulate in the blood, and the remaining third are typically found in the spleen.
  • The life cycle of platelets is usually about 7-10 days; therefore, the old ones are continuously being replaced by new ones.

What is Low Platelet Count?

  • Thrombocytopenia refers to an abnormally low level of platelets in the bloodstream.
  • Platelets are important for normal blood clotting.
  • With severe thrombocytopenia, excessive bleeding may occur.
  • Thrombocytopenia occurs because there is decreased production or increased destruction of platelets. It also can occur when the spleen enlarges and sequesters more platelets than usual.
  • Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) arises because of immune-mediated destruction of platelets that may occur with the blood thinner heparin and its related drugs.
  • Other prescription drugs also may cause thrombocytopenia in certain cases.
  • Viral infections may cause thrombocytopenia because of their effect on bone marrow, leading to decreased production of platelets.
  • A blood test is used to diagnose thrombocytopenia. It often is identified when blood tests are ordered for other reasons or during routine screening.
  • Signs of thrombocytopenia can include small pinpoint haemorrhages (petechiae) or bruises known as purpura.
  • Treatment of thrombocytopenia, when necessary, comprises platelet transfusions. Most patients with thrombocytopenia do not require regular platelet transfusion. If surgery is planned in a patient with a platelet count of less than 50,000, then transfusion may be necessary.

Symptoms of Low Platelet Count

Most people with thrombocytopenia or low platelet count have no symptoms directly associated with low platelets. They may show symptoms related to the underlying cause of thrombocytopenia, however.

In severe thrombocytopenia (platelet counts of less than 10,000 to 20,000), excess bleeding can occur if the person is cut or injured. Spontaneous bleeding can also happen when platelet numbers are severely diminished.

Signs and symptoms of bleeding related to thrombocytopenia can include;

  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Pinpoint haemorrhages into the skin or lining of the mouth (petechiae) or bruising (purpura)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Blood in the stool or urine

Other signs and symptoms that may occur in people with thrombocytopenia can include;

  • Enlargement of the spleen (splenomegaly)
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)

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Common Cause of Low Platelet Count

Causes of low platelet count or thrombocytopenia can be divided into three categories:

  • Impaired production

Low platelet count because of impaired production is because of problems with the bone marrow. Usually, other blood cells (red and white) are also affected by some of these processes, and their numbers may be abnormal. Some viral infections can cause low platelet count by affecting the bone marrow.

  • Increased platelet destruction or consumption

Increased platelet destruction can cause thrombocytopenia by using immunologic and non-immunologic mechanisms.

  • splenic sequestration

Splenic sequestration occurs when the spleen enlarges (for example, because of cirrhosis of the liver or certain types of leukaemia) and captures, or sequesters, more platelets from the circulation than normal. This could lead to thrombocytopenia.

The major causes in each category are outlined above, although there are other less common causes of low platelet count not mentioned in this article.

In infants, many conditions similar to these listed above can lead to neonatal thrombocytopenia. Some rare genetic conditions can also lead to thrombocytopenia in children at birth.

Test Low Platelet Counts

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Do blood test for platelet count or complete blood count to check the platelet level in your blood. Meet your doctor prior or after the blood test so that right guidance can be opted.

Reference: Emedicinehealth

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