Monday, 21 November 2011

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

ITP or Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura is an abnormal disease that affects the platelet count. The decrease of platelet count is called Thrombocytopenia. Why it is called idiopathic because there is no known cause for it except in children(it may be related to viral infection). In peoples having this disorder, their immune system attacks platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting. That is why its alternative name Immune thrombocytopenic purpura.  

In most of the causes of ITP the problem is due to the production of antibodies against platelets in blood, as if they were foreign substances. Platelets are one of the components of blood with red and white blood cells. Platelets are made in bone marrow like red and white blood cells. The antibodies get attached to platelets and the spleen destroys the platelets carrying antibodies.

Symptoms become visible when there is an incredible loss of platelets that is count less than 20000 per  microlitre (normal range is 150,000- 450,000 per microlitre). Common symptoms include formation of bruises or purpura, bleeding from the nostrils, bleeding gums, excessive menstrual bleeding, blood in vomit, urine or stool etc....

The function of platelets is very important in making clot and there by closing the breaks in damaged blood vessel. They circulate in the blood vessels and get activated if there is a bleeding in the body. When activated, the platelets become sticky and adhere to one another and to the blood vessel wall at the site of the injury to slow down and stop the bleeding (Hemostasis)

First of all the physician has to confirm the presence of thrombocytopenia and by excluding concurrent causes of thrombocytopenia, is best accomplished with a history, physical examination, complete blood count, examination of the peripheral blood smear and additional blood and urine tests. A bone marrow aspiration may be performed to look at the production of platelets and to rule out any abnormal cells the marrow may be producing that could be the reason of lower platelet counts. The secondary causes like cirrhosis, HIV, leukemia, hepatitis c, some medications, congenital causes .. should be excluded.

The treatment options  for ITP include glucocorticoids, intravenous immunoglobulin, and splenectomy. Hormone therapy for teenage girls may need to take hormones to stop their menstrual cycle when their platelets are low if excessive bleeding occurs. Splenectomy should not be done as initial therapy in patients who have no bleeding symptoms, patients who have minor purpura, or patients with mucous membrane or vaginal bleeding. In a patient who has had bleeding symptoms splenectomy is often appropriate if platelet counts are still low after a month of medical treatment. Platelet transfusion is needed for those who have severe bleeding or may be before having surgery.

Lot of alternative medicine and natural treatment are available for ITP, but it can be so confusing sometimes. Always to consult a physician who got knowledge in natural medicine before trying to do anything yourself. For an effective ITP Treatment, you must do things wisely and approach this problem with a more balanced view instead of just taking one remedy here and there.

  • People with ITP should not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or warfarin because these drugs interfere with platelet function or blood clotting, and bleeding may occur.
  • Restrictions should  be there for the activities such as sports, for those having very low platelet count.

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