Elderlies are not free from having a health condition. They, too, have body needs that are sometimes not sustained due to poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. With this in mind, they can also develop certain illnesses that can bring risks to their lives. Millions of people around the world are hospitalized daily, and we cannot deny the fact that the majority of its causes are an improper way of taking themselves.
In some cases, a disease can also be due to inheritance. No matter how we take care of ourselves, and if the problem comes from genetic mutation, some treatments may not be effective as we expected that they should be. One of the problems that the worldwide population is facing is the condition called thrombocytopenia.
What does it mean to have a low platelet count?
Thrombocytopenia is a condition in which the body has not enough platelets to support it during blood clotting. Platelets are components of the blood that are small and looks like a disk. It can only be seen through a microscope. However, they may be considered particles, but their contribution to the body’s clotting process is undeniably helpful.
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The primary function of platelets is to allow the body to clot properly to prevent bleeding. They spread their tentacles once they receive the chemical signals from the blood vessels. It is a sign that the body is wounded. These elements will then cover the hole wherein the affected area is situated to form a clot. This process will then stop the occurrence of bleeding.
If there is not enough of those platelets, the person will be at risk to suffer from excessive bleeding. To achieve its goal, the body should have 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood. Lower than this threshold can cause various symptoms like:
- Easy bruising
- Gum bleeding
In severe cases, bleeding can occur even if the body has no wound. It can develop on the brain and intestinal tract which can be fatal for humans. This problem often affects elderlies when their platelet count drops below 10,000.
Causes of low platelet count:
Infection is one of the most common reasons of elders having low platelet count. Some examples of infectious diseases are HIV, hepatitis C, dengue, malaria, and tick-borne diseases. In these conditions, the immune system becomes weak enough to fight the virus and bacteria that enter the body systems. These harmful elements destroy the cells and tissues. They can even damage the bones wherein the bone marrow is located.
Platelets, along with the other components of the blood, are produced in the bone marrow. If the virus invades this portion, it can decrease the production of platelets. Although it can sometimes make the necessary amount of platelets, these elements will still be destroyed by the harmful substances that cause infection when they travel in the bloodstream. Therefore, the person can develop a low platelet count.
Heavy drinkers should expect the adverse effects of alcohol to the platelets. This substance can cause bone marrow suppression that leads to inadequate production of healthy platelets. In this case, the bone marrow produces abnormal platelets that have incorrect structure. These elements will then clog in the blood vessels and will not be able to flow properly into the bloodstream. They quickly get damaged before they developed fully.
Minerals like iron and folate are essential for the production of platelets and other blood cells. They are the primary needs of the blood for it to perform its function well. Folate helps the bone marrow produce healthy platelets while iron boosts its production. It is why thrombocytopenia often affects people who don’t eat healthy meals and prefer processed food products instead. Taking supplements containing folate, iron, vitamin B12, and other essential minerals can boost your platelet count if the cause of your condition is a nutritional deficiency.
Injury due to an accident
Vehicular accidents or participating in contact sports often leads to injury. Whether internally or externally, the occurrence of bleeding has a big chance if the body gets wounded. Bleeding can affect various parts of the body, and even the internal organs are not an exception. Most patients who are victims of vehicular accident can die instantly if they have hemorrhage most especially if it takes time for them to receive a treatment or transfusion.
Not all medications are suitable for the patient who wants to relieve the symptom caused by another condition. Even those over the counter drugs are not considered safe to use even when you only want to reduce pain or inflammation. Some medicines like aspirin can decrease the production of platelets. The doctor can give you a guideline if you’re going to take drugs and help you avoid having a low platelet count at the same time.
Typically, the spleen collects a few platelets while some of them travel in the bloodstream. This part of the body can also suffer from a disorder, allowing it to store more level of platelets than the usual. It mostly happens when a person has inflammatory or liver disease. When it occurs, the spleen becomes enlarged and gather a lot of platelets, thus resulting to low platelet count.
Chemotherapy or radiotherapy
These two common ways to treat cancer can have adverse effects on the platelets and cells inside the body. The medications and radiation can destruct the cells, and sometimes harmful substances can also reach the bone marrow. Being said, it results in low production of platelets that can cause complications to the condition of the patient. A platelet transfusion is often required to reduce the risk of bleeding.
By seeing the causes of low platelet count, we can tell that some of them can be due to the ways of how we take care of ourselves. Performing the best health practices is still the key to avoid the existence of many diseases that harm our lives.