Platelets are tiny fragments of cells in your blood that help form blood clots. They are important in stopping excessive bleeding or bruising if you injure yourself. Platelets are activated at sites of bleeding, and form clots by combining with other clotting proteins in the blood, such as fibrin.
An abnormally low platelet count may have no symptoms, but may cause abnormal bleeding or bruising. A normal platelet count is usually between 150-450 x 109/ Litre. Spontaneous bleeding may occur when platelets fall below 30 x109/ Litre. Platelet counts above 80-100 x 109/ Litre are required for most surgeries or in trauma situations, in order to prevent bleeding complications.
What causes low platelet counts?
Platelet counts can be low due to immune disorders, infections or medications that cause excessive destruction of platelets. Platelet counts may also be low due to the bone marrow simply not producing enough.
What tests are ordered to investigate low platelets?
Low platelets are often investigated by blood tests, and occasionally a bone marrow biopsy to assess whether the problem lies in the marrow itself.
What are the symptoms of an excessively high platelet count?
Moderately high platelet counts can cause no symptoms. Platelets can cause problems if their numbers exceed 800 x 109/Litre. Symptoms may include abnormal bleeding or bruising if the platelets are not functioning well. High platelet counts can cause unwanted clotting in blood vessels, leading to stroke, loss of vision or other clotting problems. Extremely high platelet counts can cause your blood to be thickened, and your blood may not flow well, leading to nose bleeds, visual disturbances or confusion.
What causes excessively high platelet counts?
High platelet counts can occur as your body’s normal response to stress or blood loss. Platelet counts can increase as your body’s normal response to bleeding or physiological stress such as surgery or trauma. Platelets can also be abnormally high due to over-production in your bone marrow.
What tests are ordered to investigate high platelet counts?
High platelet counts are initially investigated by blood tests. Sometimes you doctor will order a bone marrow biopsy to assess whether the problem lies in the marrow itself. Other useful tests may include scans to assess your spleen and other organs.