Patient's Complete Guide to Platelets Disorders

Overview of Platelets Disorders

Platelets are small blood cells that are responsible for clot formation. They are produced in the bone marrow. The name platelets is given to them because they are shaped like small plates.

Platelets are important blood cells and are necessary to stop the bleeding in case of bruises, injuries, or surgeries. Without these binding cells, the blood loss will be severe which can be fatal.

What are Platelet Disorders

Platelets disorder is a medical condition in which the level of platelets in the blood is low or higher than normal. Both these conditions have their own consequences.

Signs and Symptoms of Platelets Disorders

If a person has platelets disorders he or she may suffer from the following symptoms:

  1. Oral bleeding; bleeding in the mouth 
  2. Frequent nosebleeds 
  3. Excessive or easy wounding
  4. Superficial bleeding that is usual in the lower legs
  5. Continuous bleeding from cuts or wounds
  6. The appearance of blood in urine and stool
  7. Heavy menstrual cycles with more bleeding in women
  8. Tiredness
  9. Enlargement of spleen

Types of Platelets Disorders

Platelet disorder may vary upon the blood platelets count and their function in the blood.

Following are the types of platelets disorders:

1-High Blood Platelets Count

Thrombocytosis is a condition in which the blood platelet count is higher than usual. There are two common types of thrombocytosis:

  • Primary Thrombocytosis

It is a rare blood disorder in which the body produces a large number of platelets. The reason for such a large production of platelets is still unknown.

  • Secondary Thrombocytosis

Secondary thrombocytosis or reactive thrombocytosis is a condition in which the person suffers from an unusually high number of platelets in the blood. Secondary thrombocytosis can be due to any underlying disease or the use of certain medications.

2. Low Count of Blood Platelets

  • Thrombocytopenia

It is a condition in which the blood platelets count is lower. Bone marrow disorders such as leukemia or immune deficiency can be the leading cause of low levels of platelets in the blood. Thrombocytopenia can also be due to the intake of certain medications. This condition equally affects both men and women.

3- Platelets Function Disorder

  • Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia

When the blood platelets count is proper but they are not functioning properly in the blood.

  • Bernard Soulier Disease

This condition is characterized by the presence of very large platelets in the blood. Furthermore, the available platelets in the blood are lacking the protein that helps them to stick with one another.

  • Hermansky Pudlak syndrome

The platelets are present in the body but are unable to work properly. There are nine known subtypes of this syndrome. Regardless of their subtypes, the person suffers from poorly functioning platelets in this condition.

  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)

It is a rare condition. In this condition, the body majorly suffers from abnormal clotting. This dysfunctional clotting affects the small blood vessels. The number of blood platelets lowers and this leads to the low availability of oxygen in the blood.

Causes of Platelets Disorders

Majorly the platelets disorders are caused due to genetic faults or subsequent mutations. Genes are responsible for the transfer of proper transfer of information from the parents to the offspring. 23 chromosomes have genes in pairs on them. Sometimes when one of the parents is a carrier then the genes are responsible for the disorder.

Carriers are often those who have the ability to transfer the affected gene but are themselves healthy. Some of the causes of platelet disorders are:

  • Autosomal Recessive Inheritance

When a person receives a faulty gene both from the father and the mother then they are highly susceptible to this disorder. This condition is known as autosomal recessive because in this the child has to inherit the mutated gene from both parents. The prevalence of this condition in each pregnancy is as follows:

  • The child will neither be affected nor will carry the gene 25%
  • The child will not be affected but there is a 50% chance of being a carrier
  • The child will be affected 25%
  • Autosomal Dominant Inheritance

 A child may also get platelet disorder if he or she inherits the gene from one of the parents. The chances of platelets disorder due to autosomal dominant inheritance are:

  • The child will be unaffected and will not be the carrier 50%
  • The child will both be affected and will be the carrier 50%
  • X-Linked Inheritance

Females tend to have two X chromosomes. If one of the two chromosomes is faulty and the other one is healthy then the chances of the disease occurring are half. But males have a pair of X and Y chromosomes. If the X chromosome is faulty then the chances of disease occurrence are higher. Boys tend to be more vulnerable and often mothers are carriers. Each pregnancy has the following chance of x-linked inheritance:

  • The child will be unaffected and will be a non-carrier female 
  • The child will be unaffected and will be a carrier female 
  • The child will be unaffected and will be a male 
  • The child will be affected and will be a male

Risk Factors of Platelets Disorders

Platelets disorder is a blood condition. Low platelets blood count or high platelets blood count can put a person at a greater risk of serious blood loss. In other instances, a person can also be on the verge of acquiring infections due to low immunity.  Most of the time people who have platelets disorders suffer from the following complications:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals 
  • Viruses exposure 
  • Genetics or inheritance 
  • Cancers
  • Anemia 

Prevention

This is a rare blood disorder that is mostly caused due to inheritance and gene mutation. But some of the following practices may help to reduce the onset of such conditions:

  • Avoid alcohol drinking. The substances in alcohol interfere with platelets production.
  • Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals. They can cause gene mutation.
  • Take only prescribed medicines. 
  • Consult with your doctor
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Do not smoke 
  • Make healthy life choices

Diagnosis

The healthcare professional would diagnose the disease firstly with a physical examination and medical history. They can also about the course of medications that the patients are taking due to their previous history. Some of the other diagnostic measures that the doctor may take are:

  • CBC

CBC is known as the complete blood count. The reports will clearly identify whether the person has low or high blood platelets count.

  • Clotting Test

This test is mostly performed to check the efficiency of the platelets and the associated clotting factors that are responsible for coagulation.

In case the doctor suspects that this disorder is due to mutated genes, they will advise the patients about family planning accordingly.

Treatment of Platelets Disorders | When to Consult a Doctor

Platelet disorders are mostly caused due to genetic mutations. Some of the most common treatments for platelets disorders are:

  • Desmopressin

It is a remedial method in which the storage place of platelets is triggered to release platelets in the blood. This treatment is administered orally or through an injection under the skin. Sometimes the patients are also told to sniff it up.

  • Medications

Tranexamic acid is a medicine that is often given to patients that have platelet disorders. Certain blood proteins are responsible for the production of platelets. This medicine gives those proteins a much-needed boost. 

People who are suffering from abnormal platelet count in their blood should be highly careful with the intake of NSAIDs. These medicines can lead to episodes of high and uncontrolled bleeding.

Note:  (Consult your doctor before taking any medications)

  • Platelets Transfusions

This is a treatment method that is mostly used in people who are suffering from either high or low blood platelets count. Platelets transfusions may only last for 3-4 days.

  • Injections

Injections should be administered to the patients subcutaneously i-e under the skin. To avoid bruising and swelling the injections should not be given to the muscles.

  • Specifications For Females

Those females who suffer from heavy periods due to this disease are often treated with Tranexamic acid or DDAVP. In case of anemia, they should be given iron supplements.

  • Bone Marrow Transplant

This one is the most popular method for the treatment of platelets disorder. But it is only administered to those patients who are severely suffering.

Doctors to treat Platelets Disorders in Pakistan

Speciality for Platelets Disorders

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