Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura
(Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura; ITP)
DefinitionImmune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) is a bleeding disorder. It is a reduction in the number of platelets in your blood. Platelets are small cells in your blood that stick together to form blood clots. These clots help stop bleeding at injury sites. Low platelet levels with ITP makes it easier to develop bruises or bleed even with minor injuries.There are two types of ITP:
- Acute ITP
- Lasts less than six months.
- Usually occurs in children.
- Most common type of ITP.
- Chronic ITP
- Lasts longer than six months.
- Usually occurs in adults.
CausesITP is caused by a problem with the immune system. The immune system places a tag on platelet cells. This tag mistakenly identifies platelets as foreign material. Organs like the spleen and liver will then remove the tagged platelets as they pass through in the blood. Gradually, this process will reduce the number of platelet in your blood. Eventually, the decreased levels of platelets will be severe enough to interfere with the blood's ability to clot.
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Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your chances of developing ITP include:
- Children with a recent viral infection or live virus vaccination
- Women—2-3 times more likely to get ITP than men
- Women younger than 40
SymptomsBoth adults and children may notice the following symptoms:
- Easy bruising
- Blood in urine or stools
- Bleeding for longer than normal following an injury
- Unexplained nosebleeds
- Bleeding from the gums
- In adult women, heavier-than-normal menstrual periods
- Red dots—may occur in groups and resemble a rash
- Bleeding within the intestinal tract or brain—rare
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