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Platelets are a type of cell that helps the blood clot. They’re also the most abundant cells in the human body and an essential part of the immune system. So if you have a low platelet count, it’s necessary to know how to treat it.
Do you bruise quickly and have difficulty stopping bleeding from cuts or wounds? Or maybe you’re prone to nosebleeds and bleeding gums? If this is the case, you may have a low platelet count.
A low platelet count, also known as “thrombocytopenia,” is difficult with regular blood clotting and bruising caused by a lack of thrombocytes, which are colorless blood cells generated by the bone marrow. Thrombocytes are cells that aid in forming blood clots in the arteries and veins and prevent bleeding. Thus, a low platelet count puts a person at risk for internal bleeding, blood clotting, and blood vessel issues, and may, regrettably, have a significant impact on quality of life.
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a low platelet count caused by an autoimmune illness that impairs platelet production and uses in the body. Autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, leukemia, and lymphoma may cause ITP, and variables such as drug usage and toxin exposure can also cause blood platelet counts to drop. Patients with low platelet counts may not always have a severe autoimmune disease. Common lifestyle factors cause some instances of mild thrombocytopenia, are readily treated, and don’t have any visible signs or symptoms.
Thrombocytopenia manifests itself differently in symptoms and treatment, depending on how low a person’s platelet count has dropped. Some individuals may need to keep a close eye on their symptoms and see their physicians regularly. In contrast, others may need to go to the hospital for emergency treatment and avoid anything that may cause bleeding.
As you’ll see, there are various reasons for low platelet counts, which may make treatment a little complicated. However, most individuals with mild to moderately low platelet counts may quickly fix their counts and live an everyday, healthy life by changing their food and lifestyle.
What to Do If You Have a Low Platelet Count
If you find that you’re bruising more readily and bleeding for more extended periods after a minor injury, see your doctor have your platelet levels checked. A complete blood count, which measures the levels of all blood cells/platelets in your blood; a blood smear, which examines the actual shape of your platelets; or bone marrow tests and blood clotting tests to check for proper platelet production and function can all be used to diagnose a low platelet count. In addition, an ultrasound may be required to examine your spleen for enlargement and potentially tap platelets within.
When thrombocytopenia is minimal, it may not even need treatment since blood may still clot properly. However, if it gets severe, your doctor may need to give medicines to help blood clot or alter the medications you’re taking to eliminate the adverse effects. Platelet transfusions, splenectomy (spleen removal), corticosteroids, and immunoglobulins, which inhibit immune system effects, are medications and therapies used to stabilize extremely low platelet counts.
Once you’ve received a diagnosis, you may follow the steps below to boost your blood platelet count, manage your symptoms, and avoid complications:
1. Eat a healthier diet
Low platelet counts may be caused by a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate (vitamin B9). One method to assist with this is to take supplements, but the best alternative is to obtain enough of these nutrients in the first place. Vitamin B12 insufficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies worldwide. Likewise, a lack of folate puts you at risk for low platelets and pregnancy difficulties, heart problems, and tiredness. As a result, you should eat meals that provide these essential nutrients:
- Beef, chicken liver, salmon, tuna, yogurt, and turkey are some of the most acceptable sources of vitamin B12.
- Beans are among the best sources of folate. Lentils, spinach, asparagus, avocado, and beets are just a few of the ingredients.
Aside from getting adequate B12 and folate, concentrate on eating an unprocessed, balanced diet to boost immunity against viruses and illnesses and aid your organs in detoxifying your body of toxins you come into contact with. Fresh fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, berries, cruciferous vegetables, fresh herbs, and spices, are particularly essential for fulfilling your nutritional requirements.
According to the Platelet Disorder Support Association, approximately 40% of individuals with low platelet counts improved their bleeding symptoms and platelet counts after following either the macrobiotic diet or the diet suggested in Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo’s book “Eat Right for Your Type.” These suggestions include eating more fresh foods, avoiding packaged/processed meals, and limiting or eliminating dairy, low-quality meat, and added sugars, as mentioned above.
2. Reduce or eliminate alcohol and sugary drinks from your diet.
Because alcohol inhibits platelet production, heavy drinkers are more likely to have low platelet counts. According to a study published in the journal Alcohol, Health and Research World, heavy alcohol intake may lead to a widespread reduction of blood cell development and the creation of architecturally defective blood cell precursors that don’t work correctly to clot blood. According to studies, alcoholics have faulty red blood cells destroyed prematurely and aberrant white blood cell levels, and a greater risk of autoimmune responses and bacterial infections. Up to 43% of drinkers eat regularly, and 80% of those don’t have thrombocytopenia.
Because everyone’s body reacts to alcohol differently, you must examine your circumstances and medical history to determine how much alcohol your body can take without becoming ill. Drinking no more than one to two drinks per day (one for adult women, two for men) is a standard guideline for healthy people, and those with low platelets should drink considerably less. It’s also a good idea to stay away from sugary, processed beverages, which include many chemicals that may disrupt platelet development, such as artificial sweeteners like aspartame, synthetic colors, and preservatives.
3. Minimize Toxic Chemical Exposure
Pesticides found in non-organic vegetables, mercury from certain seafood, arsenic, and benzene are all known to impede platelet formation. The following are some suggestions to help you reduce your exposure to these hazardous chemicals:
- Whenever feasible, I try to purchase mainly organic food.
- Instead of synthetic chemicals, choose natural cleaning and cosmetic products, such as those produced with essential oils.
- Low-volatile paints should be used to paint your house.
- Using organic fertilizers to produce part of your food in a garden
- Chemical sprays, perfumes, and candles should not be burned.
- storing leftovers in glass or ceramic containers rather than plastic or BPA-aluminum-toxic containers, and never heating meals in plastic
- Avoid eating high-mercury seafood (such as colossal tuna, shark, or swordfish), having mercury fillings or amalgam fillings, and using mercury thermometers.
4. Reduce or eliminate the use of analgesics
Both over-the-counter pain relievers, aspirin, and ibuprofen may thin your blood and alter your platelet counts. While they may help with pain, they can also put you at risk for bleeding problems if you take them too often. How much is excessive? It varies on the individual, but you may suffer various adverse side effects if you take them nearly every day.
Although they may not work as fast, changing your diet and reducing inflammation may help you manage pain naturally. Anti-inflammatory supplements, such as omega-3 fish oil, turmeric, frankincense/Boswellia, and peppermint essential oil, may also assist.
5. Use Supplements and Herbs to Help
Apart from taking or eating more of the vitamins B12 and folate mentioned above to avoid deficiencies and anti-inflammatories to manage pain, there’s evidence that individuals with low platelet counts may also benefit from taking or eating more of the following:
- Vitamin D is necessary for the function of hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow, which generate platelets and manage autoimmune disorders. Sunlight and exposure to the sun on bare skin are the most significant sources of vitamin D.
- Consume vitamin K-rich foods since it is required for normal blood clotting, has anti-inflammatory effects, and has been proven to aid in the management of bleeding problems.
- Sea vegetables (chlorophyll/algae/seaweed) aid in binding heavy metals, boosting immunity, and supplying numerous nutrients that humans lack.
6. Defend Yourself Against Injuries and Infections
Avoiding accidents and infections, which may exacerbate autoimmune responses, spleen enlargement, and excessive bleeding, is critical for individuals who have already been diagnosed with low platelet counts. Avoid being hurt when participating in sports, working, exercising, or using the equipment.
According to most specialists, people with low platelet counts should avoid contact activities such as boxing, football, skiing, or karate, which may induce bleeding. In addition, protect your spleen by staying away from ill family members or coworkers as much as possible and keeping youngsters with low platelet counts out of daycare centers.
7. Assist in the Natural Treatment of Bruises
Try this DIY bruise cream prepared with natural, calming ingredients like frankincense, shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil if you have low platelet counts that cause bruising or redness on your skin.
Low Platelet Count vs. High Platelet Count
Platelet counts are usually defined as follows:
- Platelet count should be between 150,000 and 450,000 per microliter of circulating blood.
- A low platelet count is defined as less than 150,000 platelets per microliter of circulating blood (if the platelet count falls below 20,000 per microliter, spontaneous bleeding may occur and is considered life-threatening)
- A high platelet count is defined as more than 450,000 platelets per microliter; your doctor would most likely search for an underlying issue at this stage.
Thrombocytosis is a condition in which platelet levels are excessively high. An infection or a blood and bone marrow illness may be the underlying cause of high platelets, which would make the reasons comparable to those of low platelets. Headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness, chest pains, and weakness are some of the symptoms. To begin with, both high and low platelet counts are treated the same way, depending on what’s producing them. Changing someone’s medicines, food, and nutritional intake, as well as identifying any underlying infection or autoimmune disease, may usually improve both conditions.
Symptoms of a Low Platelet Count
The following are the most frequent indications and symptoms of a low platelet count:
- Cuts or wounds that bleed for a long time
- Being easily bruised or having a lot of bruises (called purpura, which shows up as purple, blue, or brown marks under the skin)
- Under-the-skin bleeding shows a rash of tiny patches (petechiae), most often on the legs.
- Gum disease and bleeding gums (this can happen while you brush your teeth or other times)
- Experiencing nosebleeds
- Blood in the pee or feces (stool can appear as red blood or as a dark black-gray color)
- Having a lot of menstrual flow
- Frequently feeling weary and exhausted
- Having a lot of headaches
- Having an enlarged spleen, which may cause discomfort and soreness in the abdomen
- The skin begins to become a yellowish hue (jaundice)
The most apparent indication or symptom of a low platelet count is bleeding that cannot be stopped with standard treatments, such as applying pressure to a wound or cut. Some individuals may discover they have low platelet counts after receiving their yearly physical exam results. In contrast, others may suffer a fall or accident and seek medical assistance owing to excessive bleeding.
It’s conceivable that some individuals have ITP (an autoimmune illness characterized by low platelets) and aren’t aware of it until something causes bleeding and raises suspicion, prompting them to see their doctor, where they are diagnosed.
Causes of Low Blood Platelet Counts
The bone marrow continually replenishes platelets in the blood, and numbers remain normal and stable due to this continuous creation and destruction. Platelets die off after approximately 10 days in healthy individuals, producing new ones to replace them. However, fewer platelets are generated in individuals with low platelets or removed more quickly, resulting in abnormally low numbers.
The sponge-like substance within the bones, known as bone marrow, contains essential cells known as stem cells. Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets from stem cells as they grow and develop. Damage to stem cells in the bone marrow prevents the production of blood cells and platelets, which are required for normal blood clotting. As a result, average blood platelet counts range from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of circulating blood, while low numbers may be considerably lower.
Thrombocytopenia may be caused by genetic/inherited factors or as a side consequence of people’s lifestyles, such as the medicines they take, their diets, and their medical histories, all of which influence how their spleens and bone marrow function, according to the American Society of Hematology. In addition, genetic mutations in transcription factors, cytokines, cell surface receptors, and signaling molecules may induce thrombocytopenia by reducing platelet formation or shortening the platelet life span.
Something in the individual’s life causes aberrant changes in how the bone marrow and the spleen create, release, and destroy platelets in the blood in instances where low platelet counts are acquired but not inherited (the person wasn’t born with the disease but subsequently got it).
Platelet counts drop as platelets circulate in the bloodstream in one of two ways:
- aren’t usually secreted by the spleen (the spleen can hold on to them, or they can become trapped)
- aren’t made in sufficient quantities by the bone marrow, to begin with,
- are typically generated by the bone marrow. However, platelets are destroyed at a higher rate.
- Some combination of the factors above occurs.
Causes of Low Platelet Count (Thrombocytopenia)
Are you curious as to what causes the abnormalities mentioned above? Some of the most frequent underlying causes for changes in average blood platelet counts, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, include:
- Spleen enlargement: Because the spleen helps the body fight infections and clean the blood, diseases that produce an enlarged spleen may cause too many platelets to get stuck within while the body attempts to fight germs or viruses. Around one-third of the body’s platelets are stored in the spleen in healthy individuals. However, diseases such as liver disease/cirrhosis prevent scarring, keeping platelets trapped.
- Medicines: Platelet production may be affected by medicines like diuretics, NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and regular use of common painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Autoimmune disorders: such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, cause platelets to be erroneously attacked and destroyed by the immune system. Immune thrombocytopenia, or ITP, is the medical term for this condition.
- Alcohol: Alcohol inhibits platelet formation and is the most severe issue when taken in excess, mainly if a person’s diet is deficient in nutrients.
- Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies: Certain nutrients, such as iron, vitamin B12, and folate, are required for platelet production. When certain nutrients are lacking, it may affect how many are generated and how long they can live. In addition to calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin D, the Platelet Information and Blood Testing Laboratory advise getting enough of these nutrients via your diet.
- Infections and viruses: Severe bacterial infections of the blood may induce a halt in platelet formation in rare cases. Diseases such as chickenpox, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and other uncommon viruses may alter platelet renewal. Most common viruses only affect blood platelets for a short period, but certain severe infections, such as AIDS, may cause lasting harm.
- Toxin exposure from the environment: Pesticides, arsenic, and benzene, among other chemicals frequently present in the background, may also decrease platelet formation.
- Pregnancy: Platelet production may be temporarily reduced in pregnant women, although this is typically minor and resolves once the baby is delivered. According to estimates, around 5% of pregnant women have moderate thrombocytopenia at some time throughout their pregnancy.
- Hereditary Diseases: Low platelet counts are caused by hereditary diseases such as Wiskott-Aldrich and May-Hegglin syndromes, which run in families.
- Cancer: Leukemia and lymphoma injure the bone marrow and kill blood stem cells directly, but most cancer therapies (radiation and chemotherapy) kill stem cells much more.
- Aplastic anemia: when the bone marrow stops producing enough new blood cells, resulting in a low platelet count.
- A low platelet count, also known as “thrombocytopenia,” is difficult with regular blood clotting and bruising caused by a lack of thrombocytes, which are colorless blood cells generated by the bone marrow.
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts or wounds, quickly becoming bruised or developing excessive bruising, bleeding under the skin that appears as a rash of small spots, bleeding gums and gum disease, nosebleeds, blood in urine or stool, heavy menstrual flows, frequent headaches, enlarged spleen, and jaundice are all common signs and symptoms of a low platelet count.
- Low platelet counts happen when circulating platelets aren’t released properly by the spleen, aren’t generated in high enough quantities by the bone marrow, to begin with, are produced correctly by the bone marrow but subsequently destroyed more quickly, or a combination of these causes happens.
- An enlarged spleen, drug responses, autoimmune disorders, alcohol, poor nutrition and vitamin shortages, infections and viruses, toxin exposure, pregnancy, genetics, cancer, and aplastic anemia are all reasons for low platelet counts.
- Once a diagnosis has been made, the following recommendations can be used to help raise blood platelet counts, manage symptoms, and prevent complications from developing: improve your diet, reduce or eliminate alcohol and sugary drinks, reduce exposure to toxic chemicals, reduce or stop using painkillers, take beneficial supplements and herbs, protect yourself from injuries and infections.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can low platelets go back to normal?
A: Platelets are cells in the blood that help to prevent bleeding. They can go back to normal, but it will take time and patience.
What is the most common cause of low platelet count?
A: Low platelet count is often caused by a condition called thrombocytopenia. However, this condition can be caused by many different things, such as cancer and autoimmune disorders.
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