No one knows what causes the immune system to mount an attack on platelets and, unfortunately, there is nothing we know that can definitively prevent the onset of ITP. There are, however, several signs and symptoms that may indicate ITP and, when directly defined, may assist in early detection. Possible early indicators of ITP are listed below along with several tips for living a healthy lifestyle in an effort to assist with prevention. There are many treatments for ITP and some people go into remission, but there is no cure for ITP. With increased awareness, education, and research there remains hope.
PDSA has hundreds of pages on this website to help you better understand the disease. Click on all the links.
Understand Normal Platelet Counts and Potential Causes of Low Platelets
- Test your platelet count with an annual complete blood count (CBC)
- See a hematologist if the results show a platelet count below 100,000
- A normal platelet count is 150,000 – 400,000
- Together with your hematologist, determine if your low platelet count may be caused by a new drug you have taken, an infection, an exposure to toxins, or something you ate. For more information, visit Diagnosing ITP.
- Familiarize yourself with drugs and other substances known to lower platelet counts. See Warnings.
- Check to see if others in your family have low platelets. If they do, you may have an inherited low-platelet disease. See ITP and Families.
Signs (things you see)
- Petechiae – small, reddish-purple spots that look like a rash, but are not raised
- Bruising or purpura - dark red or purple bruises (black and blue marks) with no known cause
- Any bleeding that may be unusual, heavier, or lasting longer than usual:
- Heavy menses in women
- Frequent, heavy, or persistent nosebleeds
- Bleeding inside the mouth on the cheeks (blood blisters) or from the gums with no known cause Blood in urine or stool
Symptoms (things you feel)
Maintain a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
- For a helpful list see PDSA’s Diet and Lifestyle Info
- Maintain a healthy digestive system and reduce inflammation (associated with ITP) by eating a whole foods diet and chewing your food well. See Eating for Health.
- Maintain adequate levels of both folic acid and vitamin D. See Living with ITP: Answers to Common Questions. (Be sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements)
- Make an effort to reduce your stress level. Find information about the methods and benefits of reducing stress on the Mind Body Medicine page.
- Avoid environmental toxins and other substances that can cause low platelets. See Warnings.