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Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a blood disorder. With this disease, you have a lower amount of platelets than normal in your blood. Platelets are blood cell fragments that help with blood clotting. Having fewer platelets can cause easy bruising, bleeding gums, and internal bleeding. ITP is caused by an immune reaction against your own platelets. This means that your body’s immune system attacks your platelets by mistake.
ITP is a fairly common blood disorder that both children and adults can develop.
There are 2 forms of ITP:
With ITP, your immune system attacks your body's own platelets by mistake. Most often this is a result of antibody production against platelets. In a small number of cases, a type of white blood cell called T-cells will directly attack platelets. This immune system mistake may happen due to any of the following:
Sometimes the cause of ITP is not known.
A normal platelet count is about 150,000 to 450,000. With ITP, the platelet count is less than 100,000. By the time major bleeding occurs, you may have a platelet count of less than 10,000. The lower your platelet count, the greater your risk of bleeding.
Because platelets help stop bleeding, ITP symptoms are linked to increased bleeding. But each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
ITP symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will take your medical history and give you a physical exam. Your provider may ask about any medicines you are taking that may cause bleeding or lower your platelet count. You may also have these tests:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment plan for you based on:
When treatment is necessary, the 2 most common forms of immediate treatment are steroids and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG):
Other treatments for ITP may include:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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