Every single minute of every day, your body is doing amazing things that you aren’t even aware of. There are millions of cells delivering blood to the areas that need it most and bringing oxygen to organs, so they can run smoothly. The brain is constantly thinking, and you are continually creating antibodies to fight off unwanted sicknesses in the body. If you wonder why you feel tired all the time, just take a look at what your body is doing every second and you’ll know why.
In order to keep your body healthy and ensure you are taking the right measures to remain so, it is crucial that you understand t the role of each aspect of the body and its systems. One component of the body that often goes unnoticed is the platelet cell. These are incredibly important cells that do a lot of work within the bloodstream of the body. Today we are going to look at the role platelets play and also the link between cancer, such as leukemia, and low platelet counts. We will define symptoms to look for, and ways you can both raise and lower your platelet count.
What are Platelets?
In order to know why they are important, you need to understand what platelets do in the body. Platelets are small disc-shaped cells found within the bloodstream of the body. They are so small that you can only see them under a microscope, but when they join together they can accomplish so much. The average person has 150,000 to 450,000 platelet cells per microliter in the bloodstream at all times. The role of platelets is to heal damaged tissue in the body and clot the blood to stop the bleeding when wounded. For example, if you have a small cut that starts bleeding, it releases chemicals around the wound. This is like a siren for the platelets and they race toward the open wound to go to work. The chemical changes the composition of the platelet cells and they morph from a circular shape to an octopus like shape with tentacles. The platelets join together and become sticky, clotting the blood to help heal the broken tissue. If you’ve ever wondered how the body heals so quickly and how an open wound stops bleeding, it is due to the platelets in the body. They are amazing cells that provide a pivotal role to ensure bleeding stops, and the wound begins to heal, with the tissue under the clot gradually growing together and closing.
Some people suffer from both low platelet counts (under 150,000 per microliter) or too high platelet counts (over 450,000 per microliter). In each of these cases, there can be symptoms and health problems that result if you do not seek help right away.
Low Platelet Counts and Leukemia
There are a variety of reasons why someone may have a low platelet count. Often it is genetic, and there is no way of preventing it. Other times it is due to a medication (usually a blood thinning medication) that depletes the number of platelets in the body. In many patients who have cancers, such as leukemia, there is a direct link to low platelets in the body. When dealing with cancer therapy, it directly lowers your blood cell counts especially when chemotherapy or radiation therapy is involved. Cancer, including leukemia, targets bone marrow cells, which limit the marrow’s ability to supply new cells to the blood including platelet. When this happens, white blood cells are attacked the most, and then platelets, and then red blood cells. When you have a low platelet count you have a condition known as thrombocytopenia.
The symptoms of thrombocytopenia are usually bleeding and easily bruising. This can be shown through prolonged bleeding through the nose, through the gums (while brushing teeth), or for women in their menstrual cycle. Small bruising is also common around the body. If you see any of these symptoms, we recommend seeking the advice of a doctor right away. However, if you have leukemia or are going through cancer treatment, we believe that the doctor will already be aware of this and may warn you ahead of time. A lot of cases of thrombocytopenia are very mild, but it can develop into worse conditions. It is crucial that you keep aware of your levels and take medication necessary to replenish your platelet levels. Sometimes with leukemia, doctors will order a blood transfusion, or work directly with your blood plasma levels to inject you with more platelets.
The good news is there are many ways to help restore a platelet level. Consult your doctor beforehand, but a natural remedy you can try is simply by eating papaya plants and the papaya fruit. It has been shown to have a direct correlation with platelet count levels.
Having Too Many in the System
On the opposite side of the spectrum, some people struggle with having too many platelets in their system. This can be common, especially among people who struggle with diabetes, or have a history of a heart condition. As we mentioned before platelets are the direct cause of blood clots in the system. Sometimes if you have too many, it can lead to clotting which is a cause for heart conditions. If you have too many platelets, Doctors may prescribe blood thinning medications, such as aspirin, which will diminish the platelet levels in the body.
Whatever your case may be, it is important that you stay on top of your platelet count, especially if battling leukemia. These are important cells that the body needs to function at its optimal level, and you should have the necessary medications in place to either restore a normal platelet level or deplete them depending on your condition. The first thing to do is go to your doctor as they will have the answer to your specific condition and can prescribe any treatment that you may need.