Platelets are, of course, a very important component of our blood. Without them, we would not be able to survive. Just like white and red blood cells, platelets have an extremely crucial role to play in our blood.
That being said, just like everything else in this world, the quantity of the platelets in our blood is also important. Having either too many of them or not enough platelets can have some pretty serious ramifications, potentially life-threatening ones.
That being said, there is a normal range in terms of the platelet count in individual bodies. So, do platelet counts fluctuate?
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Do platelet counts fluctuate?
The short answer to that question is yes, platelet counts do fluctuate and they can do so quite widely. There are several different factors which can contribute to the variation of the number of platelets in our blood.
Now, the normal range of platelets in the human body is between 150,000 and 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood in your body. This is the standard, but as you can tell, there is a pretty big difference there of 300,000 platelets per microliter.
Some people are deemed healthy with only 150,000 platelets and some are healthy with 450,000. As long as you stay within that range, you know that you are perfectly healthy platelet wise.
There are things which can cause this platelet count to fluctuate. What you do need to know is that anything above 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood can be quite dangerous.
On that same note, anything under 150,000 per microliter of blood can be just as dangerous, if not much more dangerous.
If your platelets go above 450,000, especially over 500,000, it can cause your blood to clot inside of your body, even when it is not supposed to. This can cause blood clots to form inside of your veins and arteries, causing blockages, strokes, and other potentially lethal events.
This is less common than a low platelet count, which is referred to as thrombocytopenia. A low platelet count, which is anything under 150,000 is fairly dangerous, but when the count drops below 50,000, or even below 20,000 platelets per microliter of blood, is when you have a problem and need to find a way to raise them quickly.
However, as we said, even in healthy individuals the count of platelets can vary between 150,000 and 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.
The production, function, and life-cycle of platelets in our body’s can easily vary on a day-to-basis. Changes in lifestyle, diet, medication, or medical conditions can easily affect the platelet count within our bodies.
Platelet count changes can also be hereditary or dependent on the development of an underlying disease.
Understanding what a platelet count is and why it is important can be useful in detecting a potentially dangerous situation, such as a drastic drop in platelets.
Low Platelet Count
A platelet count that is decreased is known as thrombocytopenia. This condition can vary from moderate to severe. The lower your platelet count is, the more severe your condition is.
This condition carries the risk of spontaneous bleeding in the mucous membranes (nose, genitourinary and gastrointestinal tract) and the skin. The most dangerous sites for bleeding are the eyes and central nervous system.
A low platelet count can be a temporary that lasts for just a few days, but it can also be chronic, depending on the condition’s cause.
Low platelet conditions typically improve when the underlying disorder is diagnosed and treated. Often these underlying conditions are the cause of thrombocytopenia. Other times this condition requires blood transfusions, surgery, or drugs, all of which will work to raise the platelet count within the body.
If you have been diagnosed with a low platelet count, your doctor may require changes in medication, diet, and lifestyle. He may also require that you monitor your platelet count on a daily basis to ensure that you don’t drop under an unsafe level.
Generally, a platelet count under 50,000 renders the individual at risk for internal bleeding.
Decrease in Platelet Production
Platelets that fluctuate under the average healthy human level (between 150,000 and 450,000 platelets per blood microliter) is often acquired from a disease, although it can also be innate.
Acquired decreases in platelet function can be caused by various factors that affect bone marrow. This includes:
- Intake of certain medications
- Tumor metastasis
- Ionizing radiation
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Viral infection
- Heavy alcohol consumption, especially for those who also have poor dietary practices
- Anemia derived from a lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid, and vitamin B9 in their diet
Increase in Platelet Consumption and Degradation
Other than decreases in the healthy production of platelets, some people can also experience a change in platelet count when platelet consumption or degradation has increased within the body.
In this condition, normal bone marrow function and production of platelets cannot make up for platelet loss. This is why there is a fall in the number of platelets in the body.
This abnormal condition can be either non-immune or immune. Non-immune types of thrombocytopenia include thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and intravascular coagulopathy.
Other factors that contribute to varying levels of platelet degradation:
- Platelet count may be slightly reduced during pregnancy
- Increased platelet consumption can be attributed to the creation of numerous blood clots found in circulation. This cause can be tissue damage, use of drugs, serious complications of pregnancy, severe viral or bacterial infections
- Abnormal functioning of the immune system is when the body mistakenly identifies normal cells and forms antibodies to destroy them. This creation of antibodies may be due to certain medications, destruction due to an autoimmune disease, or occur following a transfusion of platelets or blood
- Certain viruses, bacteria, alcohol and drugs can directly decompose and lower the platelet count
The spleen plays a vital role in our bodily defense against infections. However, it is possible for its function in blood cell storage to become impaired for a variety of reasons.
Impairment in the spleen can result in larger amounts of platelet capture or accumulation.
Typically, platelets make up a third of the blood cells that are found and stored within the spleen. An enlarged spleen however, can reach over 90% platelet levels.
The accumulation here in the spleen can decrease the overall platelet count found in the blood stream, although the life cycle remains at a normal level of 7 to 10 days.
Thrombocytopenia caused by splenomegaly doesn’t cause a high risk of bleeding. However, hypersplenism is often associated with liver cirrhosis, which is also associated with coagulation disorders, predisposing the patient to have an increased bleeding risk.
High Platelet Count
A rise in the overall platelet count detected in the body can often be attributed to a disorder related to the bone marrow. Conditions that affect bone marrow blood cells production can often cause a larger number of platelets to be produced and released into the blood stream.
Related: Symptoms of High Platelet Counts
This can also be a secondary condition as the body’s reaction to underlying diseases. When this disorder occurs at the bone marrow, it can lend to a larger production of platelets and increase the risk for thrombosis, which can be a life threatening disease.
Treatment for reactive thrombocytosis will focus around the disease, which is adversely causing the higher platelet count.
Generally, therapies that address the need of the underlying disease will resolve any abnormalities in a day-to-day platelet count.
This condition can be attributed to the body’s response to specific disease. In the presence of reactive thrombocytosis in the body, healthy platelet function is left unaffected.
Elevated platelet counts due to secondary conditions can occur due to:
- Increased levels of physical activity or exercise
- Post surgery
- Certain drug uses such as vincristine, tretinoin, and epinephrine
- Hemolytic anemia – due to red blood cell decomposition
- Anemia derived from iron deficiency
- Kidney diseases
- Allergic reactions
- Following the removal of the spleen
- Post menorrhagia
- Inflammatory diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, connective tissue disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Inflammation and infection
Last but not least, this condition can also raise levels of platelet count within the body. Primary thrombocythemia abnormally creates extremely high levels of platelets.
The root cause of this disease remains unknown. Furthermore, this disease causes a disturbance in platelet function.
Due to the elevated number of platelets, there is a higher tendency for thrombosis. This condition can also be severe and result in a tendency toward various dangerous bleeding disorders.
What causes fluctuations in healthy individuals?
Fear not because a fluctuating platelet count can mean a lot of different things. Besides the classic disorders like thrombocytopenia, which can be caused by a number of things, the platelet count in your body can fluctuate for simple and mundane reasons, just things in your everyday life. Let’s go over some of the things that can cause these fluctuations to occur in a healthy individual.
One of the things that can cause fluctuations in platelet counts is the food you eat. You might be otherwise healthy, but not having a balanced diet with the right vitamins can have a pretty big impact on the platelet count in your body. Your body requires certain vitamins and minerals to produce these platelets in an efficient manner.
You need things like vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and zinc in order to produce enough platelets. Having a deficiency in any of these vitamins can cause a decreased platelet count. On the other hand, having way too much of any of those vitamins or minerals in your system can cause your platelet count to increase too much.
To take care of your body you first must understand it – how it works and the different types of cells that make up the body. Have you ever heard of papaya fruit? Do you know what it is? Did you know that by ingesting papaya leaves you can have a drastic improvement in your platelet count? Let’s dive in and see what this is all about.
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What Do Papaya Leaves Do?
Papaya leaves are a commonly known alternative medicine that can directly increase the number of platelets in your system and improve your entire immune system. These leaves have a lot of benefits and although they are not as commonly adopted in Western societies, in tropical regions they are used to treat disease and poor conditions of the body. For example, there is a viral disease found in the tropics called “dengue fever.” Dengue is a flu-like viral infection that can be fatal if not properly treated. If you’ve contracted dengue, your platelet count drops significantly. However, doctors have determined that by ingesting papaya leaves (and the fruit) it replenishes the platelets and also makes them stronger. The components of papaya build up the membrane of the cell and reduce attacks from the virus.
How to Take Papaya
If you are looking to take papaya leaves for your platelet count, there are multiple ways to can do it. The two most common are either juicing or grinding. Juicing is pretty straightforward and there are so many ways you can do it. You can either take the papaya fruit and make a smoothie or you can take the dry leaves, put them in a saucepan with water, boil that, and take the liquid.
Another option is to take papaya leaves and grind them down in a bowl. This will leave you with a very bitter liquid that you can drink daily. It has been proven that by doing this every day, your platelet count will remain strong, even when fighting off a virus or infection.
Papaya leaves are not safe for everyone however, as pregnant women can be at risk. It can lead to side effects for a baby in the womb, so please take caution when deciding to take papaya leaves. For everyone else, you should consult with your doctor about how he or she can assist and advise you when it comes to introducing supplements to your diet.
Drugs and alcohol
Another factor which can contribute to a fluctuating platelet count is drugs and alcohol. Now, we are talking within reason here; we are not talking about an alcoholic or a drug addict, but someone who drinks or engages in recreational use on an occasional basis.
Various drugs and alcohol can kill off platelets while also slowing down their production. So, for instance, if you went from smoking a pack of cigarettes per day and drinking a 6 pack to drinking and smoking nothing at all, you are more than likely to see your platelet count increase. This is also true in the other direction as well.
Yet another factor that can cause your platelet count to fluctuate is sleep. Sleep is important for so many different processes in the human body. Creating platelets is one of these functions. Simply put, your body operates and functions much better when you get the required amount of sleep.
Usually, most people need around 8 hours of sleep per day, give or take an hour, for the body to engage in normal functions. If you do not get enough sleep, your body will not be able to create as many platelets as it should. If you are sleep deprived for a while, you might suffer from a decreasing platelet count. However, when you finally manage to catch up on that sleep, the platelet count in your body should rise again.
Something else that can cause your platelet count to fluctuate is the level of stress your body is under. Now, this can very well be mental stress. Many people discount mental stress as having an effect on the physical side of things, but this is just not so.
A high level of mental stress can lead to decreased platelet counts, while a low level of stress can cause platelet counts to increase. This is also true for physical stress. If you are suffering from some kind of bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, as well as from other afflictions, it may very well cause the number of platelets in your blood to decrease, but they then regenerate once you are well again.
At the end of the day, as long as your platelets do not rise above 450,000, or drop below 150,000 platelets per microliter of blood, you will be just fine. A fluctuating platelet count does not mean that you are ill.