What Is Immune Thrombocytopenia?
Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks platelets in the blood, causing platelet levels to drop to unhealthy levels. Platelets help your blood clot.
The condition is characterized by excessive bruising and bleeding when you are injured, undergo surgery or sustain trauma. It can occur in children after a viral infection, such as the flu, and usually children recover with no treatment. In adults, it can become a long-term immune disorder, with no known cause.
Immune thrombocytopenia is two to three times more common in women than in men.
Some people have no symptoms of immune thrombocytopenia. If symptoms occur, they include:
- Bleeding of the gums
- Blood in the urine or stool
- Bruising easily
- Excessive bleeding after a cut, dental work or an injury
- Extremely heavy menstrual bleeding
- Rash that looks like pinpoint spots, caused by superficial bleeding in the skin
- Unexplained nosebleeds
Treatment for immune thrombocytopenia may include:
- Immune system suppressing medications – Treatment that prevents your immune system from attack your platelets
- Immune globulin injections – Medication delivered intravenously to increase your blood count
- Medication – Drugs that boost platelet production
- Splenectomy – Surgical removal of the spleen
You may not require treatment if you don’t have signs of excessive bleeding, and your blood platelet count is at a healthy level.
Lifestyle modifications can help prevent complications. These include:
- Avoid contact sports or other activities that could injury you.
- Avoid or limit alcoholic beverage consumption.
- See your doctor immediately if you have signs of an infection, like a fever, which can be more severe in people who have had their spleen removed.
- Talk to your doctor before taking nonprescription medications like ibuprofen or aspirin, as these can affect your body’s platelet production.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of immune thrombocytopenia, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat immune thrombocytopenia.