Do you know that seasonal change has an enormous impact on human health? Just like every coin has two sides, even the monsoon has its plus and minus points. On the one hand, we get to enjoy the pleasant weather, the cool breeze and the blissful showers. While on the contrary, the rainy season is also synonymous with illnesses like malaria, dengue, chikungunya and other viral fevers etc. These health conditions can drop the platelet count, also known as thrombocytopenia.
So, let’s explore what are platelets, why are they important? And, when should one need platelet transfusion?
What are platelets?
Platelets (thrombocytes) are a type of blood cells that help in the repair of damaged tissues. They are part of the blood clotting system; they stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs in blood vessel injuries. This process is scientifically known as hemostasis.
Significantly, the platelets nature and count differ from individual to individual. Usually, an average platelet count is around 140,000 to 450,000 platelets in every microliter of blood. Fresh platelets are produced in the bone marrow and replace the dead ones. It is not only the adequate number that matters but also the quality of the platelets plays an important role in blood clotting and sustaining a quality life.
Causes for the drop in platelets count:
Drop in platelets count can occur in both children and adults. The decrease in the platelet count can be due to dengue, malaria and other viral fevers and other disorders, such as leukaemia or an immune system problem. It can also be a side effect of taking certain medications. Usually, the patients with heart diseases using blood thinner medications strongly influence the quality and functionality of platelets leading to a disastrous impact on blood clotting activity of the body.
Read more: What is leukaemia?
Symptoms of low platelets count:
Usually, no symptoms are evident till the platelets counts fall below ten thousand. Once the platelets count drops below the required number, there is a high risk of haemorrhage (internal bleeding).
However, the symptoms may not be seen in every person with low platelets count. Here are some common symptoms of low platelet count:
- ● Excessive bruising (purpura)
- ● Prolonged bleeding from cuts
- ● Bleeding from your gums or nose
- ● Blood in urine or stools
- ● Unusually heavy menstrual flows
- ● Enlarged spleen
- ● Fatigue
We all have probably heard about blood transfusion, but only a very few of us know about platelets transfusion.
Platelet transfusion or platelet concentrate is recommended by doctors to prevent or treat bleeding in people with either a low platelet count or poor platelet functionality. If you are a consent, you will be given platelets collected from a matched donor. The platelets are run through a drip and into your bloodstream. The process of transfusion usually takes 15-30 minutes.
It isn’t a thumb rule that all people with a drop in platelets count need a platelet transfusion. As per WHO’s guidelines, platelets transfusion should not be done until the platelet count falls below ten thousand, as the body has the tendency to produces enough platelets from time to time. But, when there is an internal bleeding, platelets count falls below ten thousand, and an immediate platelet transfusion is highly needful.
In the case of dengue, medications should go along with adequate platelet transfusion. In the case of viral infections, the platelet count gets normal within ten days. When it comes to malaria, proper treatment will help the platelet count to reach the normal range. People who are on blood thinner should be extra cautious and consult a doctor at the earliest.
Proper diagnosis is essential to comprehend the fall in platelet count. The right diagnosis will help to know the main cause which is responsible for the fall in platelet count. If you experience any of the symptoms of low of platelets then immediately consult a doctor because early detection and prevention are the only ways to safeguard your healthy life.