A person’s blood is incredibly important. That precious red fluid flow through the body providing oxygen throughout. Blood clots up wounds when the skin is punctured. Unfortunately, some conditions affect the way that blood performs throughout the body. Anemia is common, when the red blood cells don’t perform as well. What’s less common is when the body’s clotting system and platelets within the blood are compromised.
Chronic Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a condition where the platelet levels of a body becomes incredibly low. This means that the body is unable to clot as it should normally do so and bleeding becomes a problem. This autoimmune condition targets the platelets, with the body’s own immune system attacking itself. While typically this is a condition of mild to moderate severity, there are some severe complications that can occur within the brain, potentially leading to death. Learning more about ITP can help to educate and enlighten.
Chronic ITP is an autoimmune disease. These occur when the immune system attacks a person’s body from within. Chronic ITP is no different. The immune system attacks and eliminates the platelets in blood. These platelets are crucial for clotting, so their loss is felt throughout the body. Platelets are cell fragments within blood.
Adults tend to have ITP caused by another infection or virus. HIV is a well known cause of chronic ITP. Other conditions like hepatitis or the H. pylori bacteria can also cause chronic ITP to show itself. Causes in children are different, but still illnesses or infections. Many children develop chronic ITP after suffering from the flu or mumps.
There does seem to be some risk factors as well. People who have suffered from other autoimmune diseases and disorders are often at higher risk. This includes lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Young women are more likely than young men to get chronic ITP.
Unsurprisingly for a condition that affects the platelets in blood, most of the symptoms are in turn related to a person’s blood. Symptoms can be severe, but they can also be mild or not even show themselves!
Many women with chronic ITP will find that they suffer from very heavy menstrual flows. It’s possible for people using the restroom to discover blood located in both their stool and/or urine. People may experience excess bleeding as they brush their teeth from their gums. It’s also possible to bleed from the nose. People with chronic ITP often bruise very easily to a simple touch, and find they bruise excessively in multiple locations. Finally, some people suffer from a type of bleeding under the skin called petechiae. These are spots of purpley-red color and occur close together. It can easily be confused for a rash.
The good news is that many people who suffer from mild cases don’t need a lot of treatment. They may need to get regular tests to determine that their platelet levels don’t drop any further. Children often get better without treatment. However, adults tend towards chronic cases of ITP. These cases need treatment.
Medication is one of the most common treatment methods. It can come in prescription or over the counter options. Some work to keep the immune system from working too powerfully, while others try to increase the overall production of platelets.
Severe cases of chronic ITP can require emergency treatment via platelet transfusions. This is rare, but can occur when people are suffering from severe bleeding. Surgery is also an option for severe cases. The body’s spleen will be removed, thus allowing platelets to stop being destroyed. That being said, losing a vital internal organ is difficult and can result in many side effects.