No one knows what causes the immune system to mount an attack on platelets and, unfortunately, it is not known how to 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. While there are many treatments for ITP and some people will go into remission, there is no cure for the condition. With increased awareness, education, and research there remains hope.
Early Detection: 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.
- Familiarize yourself with drugs and other substances known to lower platelet counts.
- Check to see if others in your family have low platelets. If they do, you may have an inherited low-platelet disease.
Know the Possible Signs and Symptoms of Low Platelets
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)
The Power of a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
- A healthy diet and lifestyle is undeniable for anyone, but can be especially helpful for those with ITP. While there’s no single diet or regimen that will relieve the symptoms of ITP, you can support your immune system by making your lifestyle a healthier one.
- Maintain a healthy digestive system to help reduce inflammation associated with ITP by including whole foods in your diet and chewing your food well.
- Maintain adequate levels of both folic acid and vitamin D. Diet and supplements have been reported to have a positive effect on both, but be sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Make an effort to reduce stress. Mind body techniques have been proven effective in reducing stress, inflammation, and re-balancing the immune system.
- Avoid environmental toxins and other substances that can cause low platelets.