What are the Causes of Low Platelet Count?

What are Platelets?


Platelets repair all the tissue damage from your body.They are an integral part of the blood clotting system, which helps to stop bleeding. The scientific name for this healing process or function is known as hemostasis.

The platelets are a major constituent of the blood, which is made up of a water-based fluid and various other cells. These cells include the red blood cells that mainly transport the oxygen.

Platelets are actually invisible to a naked eye. They are extremely small & minute fragments and measure about 1 to 2 micrometers long i.e one-millionth of a meter.


How Platelets stop the bleeding of a wound?


Platelets are crucial for the process of plugging a leak in a blood vessel wall when it is injured.

When the wall of a blood vessel is damaged, a substance is exposed that activates your platelets. Activated platelets trigger the events that result in more platelets and the formation of a clot that plugs and tightens the leak.

Activated platelets also release the considerable amount of sticky proteins to assist in the formation of the clots. A protein called fibrin forms a mesh of threads that holds & tightens the plug together.

Want to know about High Red Blood Cell Count? Read more: Causes & Symptoms of High Red Blood Cell Count


What are Platelet counts?


Platelet counts are the measurement of the concentration of platelets in the blood. Normal platelet count is about 140,000 to 450,000 platelets in every microliter of blood. When the number of platelets is low, the concentration level decreases.


The platelet count will normally vary by just some small amount in women during their menstrual cycle. The count will fall near the end of their pregnancy.


When a platelet count gets too low, the risk of bleeding rises:

  • There is far more risk of bleeding when injured if platelet counts are between 20,000 and 50,000 for every microlitre
  • Bleeding happens even without the injury when counts are below 20,000 platelets per microliter
  • Spontaneous bleeding can be severe and a risk of life with counts below 5,000 platelets per microliter.


Medical abnormalities that can cause low Platelet counts

Low platelet counts have a range of various medical causes. There are mainly two broad causes: reduction in the production of platelets or raised breakdown of platelets.

Platelets can also be trapped in greater numbers by a belly organ known as the spleen. This can happen when the shape or size of the spleen is bigger than usual, which can occur due to of multiple numbers of reasons:

Platelets are produced by our bone marrow and travel in the blood for around 7 to 10 days before being destroyed by the body.


Other causes affecting platelets production mainly includes:

  • Leukemia and other cancers that can hamper the bone marrow, so fewer platelets are made.
  • Some types of a blood condition like anemia
  • Infections with multiple viruses, including HIV and hepatitis C
  • Sepsis
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome

Platelets can get deteriorated in a small proportion during pregnancies & the period cycle. This condition is generally mild enough so it does not to need any special treatment to return to normal.