Low Platelet Count

(Thrombocytopenia, low PLT)

Platelets help blood to clot. They are found in the blood flowing through the blood vessels. Platelets also line the inside of the blood vessel. When low blood platelet count is present, this layer thins and tiny drops of blood can leak through the spaces made when this layer thins, causing red dots on the skin called petechiae (pa-TEE-kee-eye).

Normal Platelet Count: 150,000 - 400,000 cells/mm3

Note: Normal values will vary from laboratory to laboratory.

When low blood platelet count present a person is at an increased risk of bleeding.

Risk of Bleeding is based on the Platelet Count

100,000 - 149,000 cells/mm3 - Little to no risk of bleeding

50,000 - 99,000 cells/mm3 - Increased risk of bleeding with injury

20,000 - 49,000 cells/mm3 - Risk of bleeding increased without injury

10,000 - 19,000 cells/mm3 - Risk of bleeding greatly increased

Less than 10,000 - Spontaneous bleeding likely

When you suffer from low blood platelet count you may notice:

  • Increased bruising
  • Petechiae (red dots on your skin described above)
  • Bleeding from nose, gums, rectum

Call your doctor immediately if you have sudden, severe unexplained pain.

Things you may do to decrease your risk of bleeding if you have low blood platelet count:

  • Do not take medications that interfere with the platelets being able to form a clot.
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®)
  • Naproxen (Aleeve®)
  • If you are not sure about taking any medication, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
  • Do not use rectal suppositories or take your temperature rectally.
  • Use caution or avoid flossing your teeth.
  • Use a very soft bristle toothbrush or oral swabs as recommended by your doctor or health care provider.
  • If your gums bleed, rinse with cold water. If bleeding does not stop call your doctor or health care provider.
  • Avoid activities that increase your risk of bleeding when you have low blood platelet count:
  • Contact sports
  • Amusement park rides that involve fast or quick motion.
  • Strenuous exercise.
  • Avoid or limit the use of sharp objects such as knives, razors.
  • Hold pressure on any cut or scrape for at least 5 minutes.

When to call your doctor or health care provider about low blood count:

  • Bleeding that will not stop after 5 minutes of pressure.
  • Bleeding that occurs spontaneously (by itself), without injury.
  • New or unexplained pain
  • Fall or experience trauma or injury
  • Feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • Have difficulty seeing or double vision

Your doctor or health care provider may prescribe or suggest for low blood platelet counts:

  • Oprelvekin (Neumega®)
  • A platelet transfusion

Related Side Effects

Low Platelet Count has related side effects:

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