Undoubtedly, we love our children. It tears our heart seeing them when they are not feeling well. We do our best to ensure that they get the best care they need, so they get healthy. However, there are times that no matter how hard we try, they are still prone to sickness. We know that their body is sensitive and it is not impossible that they, too, can suffer from some diseases.
Even children are not free from having a low platelet count. It may be due to kids who hate to eat vegetables and fruits or some other factors that can sometimes be uncontrollable. The problem can also get worse if they are picky eaters. If so, what can be done to ensure that their blood platelets don’t go low?
Before we jump to discovering the solutions, let us understand the possible causes, effect, and other aspects about the problem with the platelet count.
The platelets are the little elements in the blood that promote proper clotting. The normal range for kids should be between 150,000 to 300,000. If your child’s platelet count is lower than this level, he or she may be at risk to have thrombocytopenia, a condition in which the body is not making enough platelets.
Causes of Low Platelet Count in Kids
Bleeding can happen if the blood is not clotting properly. In this condition, the platelets are destroyed easily. The spleen can also trap some of them. Once they are trapped, there is nothing left that circulates in the bloodstream. The drugs used for chemotherapy and are designed to treat cancer can suppress the bone marrow.
Thrombocytopenia can also be a cause by several conditions such as bone marrow failure, leukemia, and lymphoma. The viruses can also contribute to this problem because they can reside in the body and eat the cells. They can also damage the platelets until a few of them are left.
The bone marrow will try hard to produce more of them to replace the lost ones, but it fails. The platelets they provide are just wasted and get damaged easily. The child may also suffer from low platelet count if he has idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or ITP.
The ITP is also referred to as immune system thrombocytopenia. The cause of this condition is unknown it is why it is called idiopathic. This condition exists if the immune system cannot recognize the platelets as useful components of the blood. Instead, they interpret them as foreign bodies and fight them. If this condition continuously lasts until six months or longer, it is referred to as chronic ITP.
The body produces antibodies, and they will then attack the platelets. This abnormal response of the immune system can decrease their amount faster. It can lead to nosebleeds and bruising.
Diseases like cancer can also shut down the bone marrow. As a result, it is difficult for it to produce platelets. The illness called Epstein Barr and mumps can also infect the cells and platelets in the body. They are fed through the cells, including platelets.
Another disease that can cause the low production of platelets is the hemolytic-uremic syndrome or HUS. It can start if the child gets infected with E.coli due to food poisoning and diarrhea. It will not only lead to low platelet count but kidney failure as well.
The spleen can also store an excessive amount of platelets. As a result, the numbers of these elements that circulate in the bloodstream also decrease. This condition starts when the spleen becomes enlarged due to cirrhosis or hepatitis.
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Signs of Low Platelet Count
It is essential to observe the condition of your child if he has a low platelet count. Some symptoms may show up like bruises or petechiae, the red pointed spots found on his skin. He or she may also bleed in gums or nose. If it occurs, it is essential to call the doctor right away.
Bleeding can cause the platelets to drop even more. The child can lose the minerals in his body which can also make him weak. As a parent, you should not panic so you won’t trigger your child to feel scared. Stay relax while calling the doctor to report the problem.
You may also see blood on his stool or urine. If he vomits a black substance, that means that his stomach is bleeding. The child may also have a severe headache. Remember that excessive bleeding can be life-threatening to your child.
How to take care of a child with low platelet count
No matter how your child loves to play, it is better to prevent him from activities that can cause him injury. Make sure that you keep any sharp or pointed objects that can hurt him and cause a wound. Change his toothbrush into soft bristles and assist when needed while brushing his teeth. You have to make sure that he does this activity gently, so it will not cause the gums to bleed.
If he nosebleeds, you should let him sit upright to keep him safe. Then, gently apply pressure to the surface of his nostril bridge. Pinch that area while holding it for 10 minutes. If it doesn’t stop, bring him to the doctor right away.
Avoid giving your child any medicine that is not prescribed by the doctor. Some drugs that you should not provide include ibuprofen and aspirin. These medicines can trigger the low production of the platelet. Make sure that any medication that you want to give to him do not contain the mentioned substances.
Do not use a suppository if he has difficulty in the bowel. Avoid using a rectal temperature because it can also cause bleeding. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation and strains of the rectum. He should also eat foods that are rich in fiber like oranges, apples, strawberries, and apple.
If he bleeds due to cut, you must apply pressure to the affected area using a dry and clean cloth. Do not use a tourniquet to prevent the bleeding. It could damage your child’s tissues. It is time for you to call the doctor if the bleeding continues to occur.
If the bleed occurs under the skin, you must apply pressure on the affected using an ice pack or a soft cloth.
Let him eat food that is easy to chew to prevent the gums from bleeding. It includes soup, pudding, and mashed potatoes. Never provide any crunchy snacks that can damage his gums.
You may also apply a hypoallergenic lotion to his skin to moist it. It is to prevent the skin from cracking which may lead to a wound. Keep your child hydrated by giving him fluid.
There are a series of tests that should be conducted so the doctor can identify the best treatment suitable for your child.
- Bone marrow aspiration
This type of testing will enable the doctor to see if the bone marrow is producing abnormal cells. He will get some substance from this portion and examine it through a microscope.
- Complete blood count (CBC)
CBC is typically conducted to determine the number of red blood cells and platelets that are present in your body. It provides essential data about the components of your blood. Through it, the doctor can see the amount that you boy can only produce.
The CBC will be based on the average platelet count for kids at your age, weight, height, and health condition. Therefore, the platelet count varies from one patient to another. Commonly, the bleeding occurs if the child only has 10,000 or less microliter of platelets.
- Peripheral smear
Using a sample of blood taken from the blood vessels of the arm, the doctor will check the structure of the cells to see if there is an abnormality present.
The treatment of low platelet count depends on the cause of this condition. If a disease causes the problem, then the doctor will have to treat the illness itself. If its occurrence is due to chemotherapy, the doctor may adjust the dosage of the medicine being used for the treatment. He may also delay the next cycle of the chemo session.
Sometimes, the problem is due to the medicine that the child is taking. His body is reacting to it which results in low production of platelets. The doctor may change his prescription and provide other recommendations.
If the condition is due to ITP, the doctor will base the treatment on his age, symptoms, diagnostic tests, and other factors. He may provide steroids such as corticosteroids which can boost the production of platelets within two to three weeks.
For severe bleeding and the medicine is not getting effective, the doctor may recommend a platelet transfusion. The blood centers are accepting donors who can only give platelets instead of whole blood.
In cases in which the spleen is enlarged, the doctor may recommend the removal of this organ. The spleen can collect more amounts of platelets and leaving the bloodstream empty. Since this part filters the blood and removes the waste products from the body, you can expect that your child can be prone to some infections. It is why it could be the last option that he can recommend.
Foods that you can give your child to boost his platelet count
Folic acid, also called folate, is a helpful agent that stimulates the production of healthy cells including platelets. If you are planning to give it to your child in the form of a supplement, it is essential to consult the doctor first. He will make sure that the supplement is safe to consume and does not contain any reactive ingredients. Foods that are rich in folate are milk, liver, eggs, and cheese.
If your kid doesn’t like to eat green leafy vegetables, you can experiment with some recipes that will make him like the meal. Find some menus that look colorful and creative, but the ingredients do not naturally look like the one he hates to eat. Try tropical delights for snacks which include fruits like peaches prunes, pineapple, and grapefruit.
Vitamin C does not only help the body stay strong, but it can also aid in the proper absorption of iron in the body. Sometimes, the body cannot easily digest some minerals that enter in our stomach. Therefore, we need other vitamins that can assist the body in absorbing the nutrients from the foods we eat. Give your child a fresh, ripe mango after he eats his meal.
Aside from being soft to chew, papaya also has high nutrients that your child needs to boost their platelet count and help with their recovery. It contains vitamin C, potassium, and folate. All of these minerals are vital for the optimum blood production. A slice of papaya can be a tasty snack and dessert.
Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, an essential nutrient that helps the body create cells. It promotes proper development of platelets, so they have a regular shape or structure as they grow. It also regulates the protein cells that boost[ the production of platelets and other cells.
Coconut oil is a potent food that contains healthy fats and valuable nutrients. Aside from boosting the platelet count, it also provides countless benefits to the body. So, make sure to replace your cooking oil with coconut oil. It is an effortless way to let your child eat his meal. You can also add it salads as dressing or even on smoothies you made for a snack.
Understanding the causes, effect, and treatment of low platelet count of your kid can help you stay alert whenever an emergency happens. You can also find better ways to help the doctor in boosting his platelet count while getting treatment. Your contribution as a parent is very crucial for the recovery of your child. Seeing you strong despite the struggle can also make him help himself to get cured.