Platelet Deficiency: Everything You Must Know About This Health Condition

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Platelet Deficiency: Everything You Must Know About This Health Condition

Did you know blood constitutes about 8% of your body weight? Blood is not only one of the largest organs but also the means of transport to supply essential substances such as oxygen, hormones and sugars to cells and other organs of the body. It also helps remove waste products from cells and plays a significant role in your body's defence and repair processes. Blood has four components– plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets and they have an equally important role in maintaining a healthy well-being.

However, in this article, we will shed light on platelets, as you often hear about their deficiency now and then due to underlying health conditions. Read on to learn more about platelets.

What are Platelets?

Platelets, also named thrombocytes, are colourless and small cell fragments that help in blood coagulation or clotting when an injury occurs. They are made in bone marrow (sponge-like tissues in bones), containing stem cells that form platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells.

Platelets stick to the harmed blood vessel's lining and form a space for blood clotting. This process results in the formation of a fibrin clot that helps cover the wound by preventing blood from oozing. Fibrin also helps form a temporary structure or scaffolding where new tissue forms, promoting wound healing.

Causes of Low Platelet Count

Many factors, also called thrombocytopenia, cause a low platelet count. Below are the major causes of low platelet count-

Your Body is Making Insufficient Platelets

Bone marrow is the manufacturing source of platelets, and if the count goes below the platelets normal range, it could be directly related to bone marrow issues. Factors that cause thrombocytopenia are:

  • Leukemia or lymphoma: This condition attacks your bone marrow and damages blood stem cells.
  • Types of Anaemia: In certain types of anaemia, your bone marrow stops producing sufficient new blood cells.
  • Viral Infections: Viral infections such as HIV, hepatitis, chickenpox and a few more viral infections hamper the platelets in the body.
  • Steroids and Chemotherapy Drugs: A few steroids or chemotherapy drugs suppress or damage the bone marrow, sometimes temporarily.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption slows down platelet production temporarily, especially in people with low folate and vitamin B12 levels.
  • Exposure to Toxic Substances: There are chances that your body doesn’t make sufficient platelets if exposed to chemicals like arsenic, benzene or pesticides.

Your Body is Consuming Excessive Platelets

Your body can rapidly damage or use excessive platelets due to certain conditions and medications. This may lead to insufficiency of platelets in your bloodstream. The three major reasons that could lead to thrombocytopenia–low platelet count-

  • Pregnancy: Expecting mothers experience platelet deficiency before childhood, but it improves gradually.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus usually consume more platelets.
  • Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura: It is a rare blood disorder resulting in small blood clots throughout the body.
  • Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: Causes clots to form in small kidney blood vessels and can lead to kidney failure
  • Bacteria in the Blood: Bacterial infections can also lead to the destruction of platelets.
  • Medications: Medications such as quinine, anti-seizure, and heparin can also confuse your immune system, destroying platelets.

>> Also Read: Dos and Don'ts of Viral Fever: Prevention, Symptoms & Treatment

Your Spleen is Consuming Excessive Platelets

The spleen is a purple-coloured, fist-shaped organ placed on the left side of your abdomen, right below your rib cage. It may vary in shape and size but usually measures around 4 inches in length. Health conditions like cancer or liver diseases usually enlarge the spleen and store excessive platelets, hampering the circulation in the body.

Extreme low platelet count can cause dangerous internal bleeding and may also lead to death if not immediately treated.

What Level of Platelets is Dangerous?

One should be watchful of platelets count as the severe drop may cause complications. An average platelet count normally ranges from 1,50,000-4,50,000 (per microlitre of blood). If the count goes below 1,50,000, it will be thrombocytopenia; if it goes below 20,000, it will be considered severe thrombocytopenia.

Symptoms of Low Platelet Count (thrombocytopenia)

One may experience the following signs and symptoms if their platelet count goes below the normal range-

  • Uncontrollable bleeding from bruises or cuts
  • Easily vulnerable to purpura (bruising)
  • Bleeding into the skin, which appears as a pinpoint-size purplish spot also known as petechiae (usually noticeable on the lower side of the legs)
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Blood in stools or urine
  • Heavier menstrual flow than usual
  • Constant fatigue

How to Increase Platelets Count Naturally?

First, one finds the answer to how to increase platelets naturally when diagnosed with low platelet count. Below is the list of foods that should help you increase your platelet count at home-

Milk

Milk is a rich source of protein and calcium essential to maintain bones and muscle strength. Interestingly, milk also has vitamin K, which helps blood clotting. Moreover, regular milk consumption is also recommended to improve platelet count naturally if you don’t have any underlying health condition.

Green and Leafy Vegetables

Green and leafy vegetables are undoubtedly a rich source of vitamin K. Once you start consuming green leafy vegetables such as parsley, basil, spinach and celery, other vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage and watercress, you will find yourself feeling healthy as your platelet count will also start increasing naturally.

Papaya Leaf Extract

You must have often heard that one should have papaya leaf extract for dengue fever. That basically means it is a common remedy for low platelet count. Regularly consuming a glass of papaya leaf extract can easily do the trick. 

Pomegranate

Pomegranate can improve blood counts tremendously as it is rich in iron. Your health expert may also recommend that you consume pomegranate regularly. It can also help during malaria by giving you the boost you need. It also contains antioxidants and vitamin C, which help boost immunity and fight infections.

Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is the most effective natural treatment that helps boost platelet count. It contains chlorophyll, similar to blood's haemoglobin. It also has the additional benefit of boosting red and white blood cells. One may also consume it during the chemotherapy as it directly attacks platelet count, so wheatgrass can help recover the lost platelets.

Now that you know which foods increase platelets in the blood, you can easily follow a healthy regime and recover the lost platelets. However, you would have to speak to your health practitioner or haematologist (blood specialist) if you are experiencing a low platelet count due to some medical condition.

Does Health Insurance Cover Conditions Related to Low Blood Count?

Low blood count could happen due to various health conditions. If you are diagnosed with thrombocytopenia or severe thrombocytopenia due to underlying health conditions such as dengue, cancer or auto-immune diseases, your doctor may recommend you undergo a platelet transfusion immediately. The process could cost a fortune if you are not covered under a comprehensive health insurance plan by Care Health Insurance. You will be covered under cancer mediclaim if your low platelet count is due to cancer or chemotherapy. However, you will be covered under health insurance for families and individuals if your low platelet count is due to dengue or any other auto-immune condition.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. Kindly consult your general physician for verified medical advice. The health insurance benefits are subject to policy terms and conditions.

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