Monmouth County's Ask the Doctor Sept/Oct

Bruising & Bleeding? Can it be ITP? By, Lauren Kowlacki

Immune thrombocytopenic purpura, (ITP) is an autoimmune bleeding disorder. Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a dis- order that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding. The bleeding results from unusually low levels of platelets — the cells that help blood clot. The immune system destroys platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting. Persons with the disease have too few platelets in the blood. ITP is sometimes called immune thrombocytopenic purpura or simply, immune thrombocytopenia. ITP occurs when certain immune system cells produce antibodies against platelets. Platelets help your blood clot by clumping together to plug small holes in damaged blood vessels. The antibodies attach to the platelets. The spleen destroys the platelets that carry the antibodies. In children, the disease sometimes follows a viral infection. In adults, it is more often a chronic (long-term) disease and can occur after a viral infection, with use of certain drugs, during pregnancy, or as part of an immune disorder. ITP affects women more often than men and is more common in children than adults. The disease affects boys and girls equally. Symptoms can include any of the following: • Easy or excessive bruising • Superficial bleeding into the skin that appears as pinpoint-sized reddish-purple spots (pete- chiae) that look like a rash, usually on the lower legs • Bleeding from the gums or nose • Blood in urine or stools • Unusually heavy menstrual flow If you think these symptoms are familiar, make an appointment with your doctor if you or your child develops warning signs that worry you.



FALL 2020

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