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Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, May 24, 2018 by

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a bleeding condition wherein the blood doesn’t clot due to a low number of platelets that helps with clotting, by forming plugs in blood vessel holes.

Platelets also are called thrombocytes. They’re made in your bone marrow along with other kinds of blood cells. Platelets stick together (clot) to seal small cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding.

“Purpura” refers to purple bruises caused by bleeding under the skin.

The hallmark signs of a low platelet count are easy or excessive bruising, prolonged bleeding from cuts, spontaneous bleeding from the gums or nose, blood in urine or stools, and skin rashes.

Women may also experience unusually heavy menstrual flows.

Synonyms for ITP include primary immune thrombocytopenic purpura and autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura.

Known symptoms and risk factors for ITP

ITP is a fairly common blood disorder, particularly in children.

Children usually get the acute (short-term) type of ITP, whereas adults tend to get the chronic (long-term) type. Women are two to three times more likely to get chronic ITP than men.

Any kind of bleeding that’s hard to stop could be a sign of ITP. Bleeding caused by a low platelet count can spur the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin that often are found in groups and may look like a rash. The spots, called petechiae, are due to bleeding under the skin.
  • Bruising or purplish areas on the skin or mucous membranes (such as in the mouth) due to bleeding under the skin.
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding gums
  • Bloody urine or stool
  • Menstrual bleeding in women that’s heavier than usual

Body systems harmed by ITP

The most dangerous complication of ITP is profuse bleeding, especially bleeding into the brain, which can be fatal. However, serious bleeding is rare.

The treatments for ITP can have more risks than the disease itself. The long-term use of corticosteroids can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Osteoporosis

Food items or nutrients that may prevent ITP

Boost your body’s production of platelets with the following food items and nutrients:

  • Beetroot
  • Cod liver and flaxseed oil
  • Folate-rich foods – Asparagus, orange juice, spinach and fortified cereals
  • Indian gooseberries
  • Lean proteins – Turkey, chicken, and fish
  • Milk – Eat low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Sesame oil
  • Vitamin A – Carrot, pumpkin, kale and sweet potatoes
  • Vitamin C – Lemons, oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupes, kiwi, bell peppers
  • Vitamin K – Green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, vegetable oils and parsley
  • Wheatgrass

Regular exercise will boost blood circulation, improve your immune system and lead to an increase in platelets.

Treatments, management options for ITP

Treatment for ITP is based on your platelet count and how much and how often you’re bleeding. Adults and children alike who have mild cases of ITP may not need treatment other than monitoring and followup to make sure platelet counts return to normal.

Some home remedies for low platelet count include:

  • Alfalfa
  • Aloe Vera
  • Ashwagandha
  • Cortisone
  • Phosphorus
  • Red Peony

Avoid blood thinning agents such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and the herb white willow bark, which has similar properties to aspirin. Make sure to check the labels of any over-the-counter painkillers. Quinine may have a bad effect on ITP and should be avoided as well.

Where to learn more


Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a bleeding condition wherein the blood doesn’t clot due to a low number of platelets.

Easy and excessive bruising and prolonged or profuse bleeding are the telltale signs of ITP.

Sources include:


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