Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a platelet dysfunction wherein the human body makes antibodies that bind with platelets (tiny, sticky microscopic cells within the bloodstream which help the blood clot.) The platelet-antibody compound consequently is damaged while in the spleen or liver. This can happen as an acute (short-term) episode or can be chronic. Affected individuals who experience reduced platelet counts usually tend to have bleeding along with injury or surgical treatment. Selected data suggests that ITP is related to an overactive immune system; nevertheless, the cause is not fully understood. The illness happens more often immediately after specific infections and a number of immunizations. Additionally, it is often connected with autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) might have little or no symptoms. When signs and manifestations do occur, they often include things like:
- Profuse bleeding from the nasal cavity or gums
- Superficial hemorrhaging into the skin that looks like a rash of pinpoint-sized reddish-purple spots (petechiae), typically on the lower legs
- Easy or abnormal bruising (purpura) – your epidermis naturally bruises and will bleed more readily simply because you age, but this should not be confused with ITP
- Excessively heavy menstrual bleeding
- Abnormally prolonged bleeding from cuts
- Blood in stool or urine
While there are no absolute or definitive tests for ITP, the diagnosis of ITP generally relies upon the assessment of a patient’s medical history, lab test, and physical examination to ensure that the results are consistent with ITP and that any other root causes of the bruising and/or hemorrhaging are rules out.
In many instances, a complete blood count and morphology smear are performed as well. Additional blood tests that are potential diagnostic tools include autoimmune studies, liver and renal functionality tests, as well as standardized viral labs. Occasionally a bone marrow test is performed if there are any questions as to the diagnosis.
As far as treatment methods are concerned, certainly if ITP is related to an infection, the first step is always to treat that. Conventional medical treatment varies according to precisely how serious symptoms are. In moderate cases, which can be self-limited, little or no treatments may be required. With regard to more serious cases, hematologists (healthcare professionals who address blood diseases) might recommend any one of a large list of medications or treatments which range from prednisone, (a steroid), to other heavy-duty immunosuppressive drugs. Another frequent conventional treatment solution is removing the spleen which damages platelets engrossed in antibodies throughout the autoimmune process. In response to the surgical treatment, platelet counts often increase significantly, but this drastic treatment doesn’t necessarily address the main cause of the problem.
If you or your child has excessive hemorrhaging or bruising, or perhaps acquires a rash of pinpoint-sized reddish spots, see your doctor. It’s also important to seek health advice if you’re a woman and all of the sudden develop substantially elevated menstrual bleeding, as this can be a manifestation of ITP. Severe or extensive blood loss indicates an emergency and necessitates immediate care.