It is important for people to know the difference between low platelet count and low blood count. This article will cover the definition of each, how they can be treated, and what your physician may need to do if you have either.
Platelet count is a measure of your blood’s clotting ability. It helps prevent excessive bleeding. A healthy platelet count is typically 150,000 or higher. Low blood counts will often be discovered through a routine blood test and other medical procedures.
What are Platelets?
Blood comprises several types of cells. These cells float in a liquid called plasma. The blood cells are.
- red blood cells
- white blood cells
- platelets, or thrombocytes
When your skin is injured or broken, platelets clump together and form clots to stop the bleeding. When you don’t have enough platelets in your blood, your body cannot form clots.
What is Platelet Count?
The platelet count test is a lab test which measures the number of platelets you have in your blood. Platelets, also known as thrombocytes, are tiny, round cell fragments which circulate in your blood and are essential for the formation of blood clots. A blood clot is a mass of blood that the body forms in order to stop bleeding.
What does it mean by low platelet count?
A low platelet count may also be called thrombocytopenia. This condition can range from mild to severe, depending on its underlying cause. For some, the symptoms can include severe bleeding and are possibly fatal if they’re not treated. Other people may not experience any symptoms.
Typically, a low platelet count results from a medical condition, like leukaemia. The treatment usually addresses the condition causing the thrombocytopenia.
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Symptoms of a Low Platelet Count
Whether you experience symptoms of a low platelet count depends on your platelet count.
Mild cases, such as when a low platelet count is caused by pregnancy, rarely cause any symptoms. More severe cases may cause uncontrollable bleeding, which requires immediate medical attention.
If you have a low platelet count, you may experience:
- red, purple, or brown bruises, which are called purpura (चित्तिता)
- a rash with small red or purple dots called petechiae (रुधिरांक)
- bleeding gums
- bleeding from wounds that lasts for a prolonged period or don’t stop on its own
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- bleeding from the rectum
- blood in the stools
- blood in the urine
In more serious cases, you may bleed internally. The symptoms of internal bleeding include:
Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience any signs of internal bleeding.
Rarely, the condition may lead to bleeding in your brain. If you have a low platelet count and experience headaches or any neurological problems, consult your doctor.
What are the causes of a low platelet count?
Your bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside the bone. It’s where all the components of blood, including platelets, are produced. If your bone marrow isn’t producing enough platelets, you’ll have a low platelet count. The causes of low platelet production include:
- aplastic anaemia
- a vitamin B-12 deficiency
- a folate deficiency
- an iron deficiency
- viral infections, including HIV, Epstein-Barr virus, and chickenpox
- exposure to chemotherapy, radiation, or toxic chemicals
- consuming too much alcohol
- Dengue fever
Low platelet count doesn’t always mean dengue
A low platelet count may not show dengue. A common viral fever and cold can bring down platelet count in blood. Many viral fevers are not a matter of concern even if the platelet count shows low.
How much is normal platelet count?
Platelets also make up an important component in the haematological picture of the patient. An escalated and uncontrolled platelet count may show disease progression and is cause for concern. With treatment, platelet levels should fall within the normal range (1.50 to 4.00 lacs/cmm) without platelet-lowering medication.
Complete blood count test is done to check platelet count in your blood
A complete blood count is a common blood test that’s done for a variety of reasons:
To review your overall health. Your doctor may recommend a complete blood count as part of a routine medical examination to monitor your general health and to screen for a variety of disorders, such as anaemia or leukaemia.
To diagnose a medical condition. Your doctor may suggest a complete blood count if you’re experiencing weakness, fatigue, fever, inflammation, bruising or bleeding. A complete blood count may help diagnose the cause of these signs and symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have an infection, the test can also help confirm that diagnosis.
To monitor a medical condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with a blood disorder that affects blood cell counts, your doctor may use complete blood counts to monitor your condition.
To monitor medical treatment. A complete blood count may monitor your health if you’re taking medications that may affect blood cell counts.
Other blood tests to do along with platelet count test
To diagnose low platelets count condition, your doctor needs to do a complete blood count (CBC) test. This blood test looks at the amount of all blood cells in your blood.
Partial Thromboplastin Time (PTT) / Prothrombin Time (PT)
Your doctor may also order blood-clotting tests, which include partial thromboplastin time (PTT) and prothrombin time (PT). These tests simply require a sample of your blood. Certain chemicals will be added to the sample to determine how long it takes your blood to clot.
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