Platelets are responsible for blood clotting, an important function in wound healing. When the count is too low (thrombocytopenia), the clotting will be insufficient, causing the appearance of bruises or hemorrhages even in small impacts. This condition arises because of an underlying health problem or because of chemotherapy; it all sounds scary, but luckily it's a treatable condition that will allow you to recover normally. However, there is no way to self-medicate or use natural methods; at the slightest sign of thrombocytopenia, consult a physician as soon as possible so that the correct treatment is employed. Afterwards, it is enough to adopt some measures so that a “relapse” does not occur.
Method 1 of 3: Using Medical Treatments
Some natural methods can even help, but low platelet counts require expert medical attention. The exact type of treatment will depend on the cause; if the condition of thrombocytopenia is mild, the professional may only monitor your condition, recommending that you avoid activities in which there is a greater chance of getting injured. In severe situations, the therapies below can be used.
Step 1. Consult a physician if you notice signs of low platelet count
This disorder has some symptoms that you may notice; the most common are the appearance of bruises from light impacts, small red spots under the surface of the skin due to bleeding, urine or bloody stools, menstrual flow more intense than normal and tiredness. Make an appointment as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms.
- Even if you don't have thrombocytopenia, these are signs that there is some other problem in your blood. Therefore, medical consultation is essential.
- If you suffer any type of wound and cannot stop the bleeding, call the SAMU (192) immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.
Step 2. Give corticosteroids to slow platelet destruction
In less severe cases, this is usually the first step in treating low platelet counts. Corticosteroids help protect them, keeping them alive longer, increasing the count. Take the dosage strictly following the doctor's prescription for the therapy to be effective.
- In addition, the provider may resort to using steroids if the problem is due to an immune disorder.
- The most common side effects of corticosteroids are: mood fluctuation, increased appetite, fluid retention, high blood pressure, and slight weight gain. Everyone should disappear after stopping using the medicine.
- Sometimes your platelet count may drop again after you stop using the corticosteroid, so your doctor may try another treatment if this happens.
Step 3. In severe conditions, you will need a platelet transfusion
Similar to blood transfusion, this therapy is reserved for serious cases of thrombocytopenia. During this procedure, usually performed in a hospital, the doctor will insert an intravenous tube into a blood vessel and transfer healthy platelets to the body, stabilizing levels and preventing the condition from worsening.
- This may also be the best option in patients who are experiencing some bleeding, whether internal or external. New platelets can help the blood to clot, stopping bleeding.
- If you have an autoimmune disease or health problem, it may take several transfusions to keep your platelet count at a healthy level.
Step 4. Undergo surgery to remove the spleen in case of primary immune thrombocytopenia (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP)
It occurs when the spleen produces too much antibodies, causing the blood platelets to be destroyed, that is, it is an autoimmune disease. It is possible to live without the spleen, so the main treatment for ITP is the removal of the spleen (splenectomy). Prepare for the procedure as instructed by your doctor and follow post-operative care to avoid infections.
- Nowadays, splenectomy is done using cameras and small instruments, meaning it is much less invasive than it was in the past. It is likely that you are only hospitalized 24 hours or discharged on the same day; however, if the surgery is open, you may need to remain hospitalized for two to six days.
- Removing the spleen will make you more susceptible to infections. Take all the necessary measures to keep your immune system strong, getting plenty of rest, adopting a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
Method 2 of 3: Knowing How to Avoid Injury
After proper medical treatment, follow some instructions to manage the condition. This requires careful day-to-day changes that will be beneficial to your overall health. Patients with thrombocytopenia should do their utmost to avoid cuts, injuries and sores so that there is no bleeding. When your platelet count rises, you can return to normal activities with your doctor's permission.
Step 1. Alcohol consumption should be moderate
Overdoing it can be harmful to the liver and lower your platelet count, so while you're fighting thrombocytopenia, reduce your consumption of alcoholic beverages.
When there is liver damage or recurrent thrombocytopenia, the doctor may suggest cutting off alcoholic beverages. Follow the instructions for the benefit of your health
Step 2. Avoid giving NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or blood thinning drugs
There are medications that can further lower the platelet count and increase the risk of bleeding. The most common are NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen; before using these over-the-counter drugs, consult your physician.
It is also important to talk to your specialist before using any herbal or dietary supplements. Some of them also thin the blood, such as feverfew, ginseng, ginger and ginkgo
Step 3. Do not play sports or do activities that could cause bruises
Until your platelet count is under control, you will be susceptible to internal or external bleeding from even simple cuts or injuries. Therefore, avoid contact sports, and be careful when doing other physical activities such as running. Slipping and hitting your head can cause a very serious injury. It's hard to deal with this, especially if you're active, but it's important to keep yourself safe.
- Some activities, such as cycling and running, can even be done, but consult a doctor first.
- Remember, you don't have to have an open lesion to experience internal bleeding. Any noticeable bruises or severe impact during sport will require specialist care to ensure that no more serious injuries have occurred.
Step 4. Never forget to fasten your seat belt when riding in a car
Even minor accidents can lead to internal bleeding, so take some measures to protect yourself, never forgetting to put your seatbelt on, for example.
After a car accident, even without major consequences, go to the doctor and undergo tests. There may be some internal bleeding that you haven't noticed
Step 5. Protect yourself when handling tools and knives
Any small cut can cause heavy bleeding in people with thrombocytopenia. Wear heavy-duty gloves when picking up knives, scissors, screwdrivers, or any other tool that can injure your skin, preventing wounds and cuts.
Method 3 of 3: Eating to Improve Platelet Count
Food is a fundamental part of health. There aren't many foods or nutrients that directly increase your platelet count, but there are vitamins that improve your blood cell production capacity and promote faster wound healing. All of these measures are of great help to any individual with this disorder.
Step 1. Get plenty of vitamin B9 and B12
Deficiency of folates (B9) and B12 can lead to low platelet counts. It is recommended to get about 200 mcg of B9 and 1.5 mcg of B12 every day; both vitamins can be obtained from green leafy vegetables, poultry, red meat, eggs, dairy products, pulses and fish.
- Vitamin deficiencies are rare in those who have a balanced diet. It's likely that you don't need to make major dietary changes to get these nutrients.
- If you do have a vitamin deficiency, it could be a symptom of another health disorder, such as anemia or an infection. The doctor will prescribe more tests for after detecting lack of vitamin B.
Step 2. Strengthen bone marrow with vitamin D
This tissue produces new red blood cells, and vitamin D is important for this part of the body to function properly. It is recommended to ingest 8, 5 to 10 mcg of vitamin D per day, which can be found in dairy products, red meat, fish, eggs and fortified foods.
- The body also makes vitamin D when it's bathed in sunlight, so stay outside when possible.
- Vitamin D deficiencies are more common because it is not present in most foods, so it is possible that your doctor will recommend taking a daily supplement.
Step 3. Encourage the body's healing ability by taking vitamin C
It does not directly increase the platelet count, but the body's ability to heal wounds and injuries, which is very important for anyone suffering from a disorder such as thrombocytopenia. Therefore, consume plenty of vitamin C so that the cuts heal faster.
Citrus fruits, peppers, green leafy vegetables and berries are good sources of vitamin C. The recommended daily amount is 40 mg, corresponding to 1 or 2 servings of vegetables
Step 4. Improve clotting ability with vitamin K, which helps blood clotting (important for those with low platelet counts)
It is present in green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, red meat and eggs. Consume 120 to 140 mcg per day to keep clotting at a good level.
Thrombocytopenia can be a serious disorder, but it is treatable with appropriate measures. The most important thing to remember is that therapy cannot be done on its own, so if you notice signs of low platelet counts, see your doctor as soon as possible. In this way, it will be possible to overcome the disorder without any complications. While waiting for the treatment to take effect, do your best to protect yourself from bruises, bruises and cuts due to the possibility of heavy bleeding.