If you’re one of the millions who have experienced unexplained bruising, bleeding gums, and/or delayed clotting, you may wonder if you have ITP disorder. Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is caused by damaged blood platelets, also known as thrombocytes, which are crucial to blood clotting and wound healing.
This autoimmune disorder can lead to excessive bruising and bleeding in the gums, nosebleeds, blood in urine or stool, lightheadedness, and fainting spells. The symptoms caused by ITP can be disconcerting and dangerous if left untreated, so diagnosis and treatment are critical in managing the condition over time. The good news is that if you do have ITP, several effective treatments can relieve your symptoms.
What is autoimmune thrombocytopenia (ITP)?
In autoimmune thrombocytopenia (ITP), your immune system attacks your platelets and causes low blood platelet counts. Blood platelets are cell fragments in the blood that help with clotting. When you have ITP, you can bruise easily or have bleeding gums when you brush your teeth. You may bleed longer than normal after an injury or get bruises easier than others do.
Having too few blood platelets can also make other health conditions worse, such as heart disease and cancer. The good news is that most people who have a bleeding disorder like ITP will lead a long, healthy life!
Symptoms of ITP
Excessive bruising, delayed clotting and bleeding gums are common signs of immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). While an easy way to check for these conditions is by keeping a personal health journal, getting a blood test is also recommended. Contact your doctor for a simple blood test to detect immune health disorders. Not sure if you have ITP or another condition? Here are some symptoms that could indicate a different blood vessel health problem:
- Easy or excessive bruising.
- Tiny reddish-purple dots on your skin that might appear like spider webs on the back of your hands or fingers can be a sign of blood vessel illness.
- Hemorrhage after tooth extraction or gum surgery.
- Cuts and wounds that don't stop bleeding easily.
- A petechial rash - this rash is characterized by small red or purple spots that look like tiny drops of blood under the skin.
- Low levels of red blood cells in your body can cause fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.
- Heavy menstrual flow for women.
- Frequent nosebleeds without any explanation may be a sign of blood vessel illness.
- A family history of blood vessel problems- high-risk individuals with relatives who've had blood vessel illnesses are at higher risk too.
Steps that can be taken to manage ITP
Medication is an important step that can be taken to manage some of these conditions. People who suffer from anemia or blood clots often take medications that boost their ability to make healthy red blood cells. This can include injectable forms of proteins like epoetin alfa and darbepoetin alfa which replace red blood cell proteins your body doesn’t make well enough on its own.
#2. Watch for signs of infection
Signs of infection may not always manifest in a fever or cough. Your immune health is another thing you should be aware of when you are considering what type of treatment to use for your condition. Many people with blood disorders have compromised immune systems because they have fewer platelets, white blood cells, and other blood components fighting off infections. If you notice any signs of infection (such as swollen glands, or difficulty breathing), contact your doctor immediately!
#3. Address the issue of blood vessel health
It’s also important to address the issue of blood vessel health. If there are areas where blood vessels are getting pinched, weakened, or damaged due to circulation problems, this will cause damage to those regions too—making bruises and other wounds more likely. Occasionally, compression stockings can help promote better circulation by easing congestion.
#4. Consider taking an herbal supplement
There are many vitamins and minerals which can help boost your immune health or promote healthier blood vessel conditions. You may want to consider taking an herbal supplement like dandelion root which has been used to ease symptoms of other autoimmune disorders and mild anemia. Note that many herbs like dandelion root also have a diuretic effect which will promote your body’s ability to flush out toxins and waste products.
Also read: How to manage low hemoglobin levels?
#5. Get your blood pressure under control
Your blood pressure also plays a role in bleeding disorders. If you have high blood pressure or need to take medications for high blood pressure, you’ll want to be careful because these will cause more severe bleeding episodes if you get injured. This is especially true of natural remedies like dandelion root which may make healthy platelets more fragile and vulnerable to damage from increased pressures inside your vessels. Make sure to keep up with regular appointments with your doctor so that he or she can monitor your progress and adjust medication dosages accordingly. Also, remember to exercise caution around sharp objects and maintain proper hygiene during bleeding episodes.
It’s vital to be proactive in your health. If you experience symptoms of a bleeding disorder and/or excessive bruising, talk to your doctor right away and get tested.
Chances are you don’t have a serious condition—like hemophilia or thrombocytopenia—but if that does turn out to be the case, having it diagnosed early can save your life.
The good news is that there are many treatments available for those who do suffer from these conditions. Speak with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.