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Thrombocytopenia

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WHAT IS THROMBOCYTOPENIA?

Thrombocytopenia refers to a low platelet count in the blood. A platelet is the part of blood that helps you stops bleeding when you get cut. They are made in the bone marrow like other blood cells. A low platelet count, thrombocytopenia, can be caused by chemotherapy, infection, medications, viruses or other factors. If the platelet count is low, a person is at a greater risk for bleeding.

Guidelines for platelet count are:

>150,000 - Normal Count
100,000 - 150,000 - Adequate
50,000 - 100,000 - Minimal risk for bleeding due to low platelets
20,000 - 50,000 - Some increased risk for bleeding due to low platelets with trauma or sugery. Treatment may be given. 
<20,000 - At highter risk for bleeding due to low platelets. Treatment may be given.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

  • Bruises or petechiae (tiny reddish spots on skin)
  • Presence of blood in stool, urine, vomit, sputum, or gums
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual flow – monitor pad count
  • Frequent or prolonged nose bleeds
    For a nose bleed:

    Sit child up, pinch nose for 5 minutes without letting up.
    If bleeding continues, apply ice and pinch again 5-10 minutes.
    If nosebleed continues, call your child’s doctor.

PRECAUTIONS TO DECREASE RISK OF BLEEDING

  • Avoid contact sports when platelet count is low!
    • Roller skates/blades
    • Rough activities
    • Bike riding
  • Use only electric shaver.
  • Do not clip hangnails; use file for fingernails and toenails.
  • Use soft toothbrush or toothettes for mouth care.
  • Encourage fiber and fluids in diet. (Refer to High Fiber Way to Grow handout.)
  • Foods that are high in fiber include: fruits*, vegetables*, whole grains, beans, nuts*, and popcorn*. * Note that some of these foods can be potential choking hazards for children less than 4 years old.
  • Use stool softener when necessary to prevent constipation. (If constipation is an issue for your child, refer to the Constipation Way to Grow handout for more information.)
  • No rectal temperatures, suppositories, enemas, or exams.
  • Provide safe environment to decrease chance of falls and bumps:
    • Crib rails up
    • Avoid toy clutter on floor
    • Use car seat and safety belts
    • No monkey bars

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 11/2017

(757) 668-7000