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Diagnosing ITP - Important Information for Patients

ITP is a diagnosis of exclusion. When all other causes of low platelets are considered and ruled out, the diagnosis is ITP.  However, there are many possible causes of low platelets and more are being discovered each year. Therefore it is possible that the diagnosis of ITP is given when there is an underlying illness, genetic anomaly, environmental trigger or some other reason for low platelets. A misdiagnosis can prompt an incorrect or potentially harmful treatment. See the "Other Platelet Disorders" page for more information.

Help your doctor determine the correct diagnosis. Here is a list of 25 items to mention to your doctor if you or your child experience an episode of low platelets: (“You” or “your” below refers to the person with the low platelet count.)

1. Your platelet count history

2. If you’ve ingested some of the following foods prior to the drop in platelets:

  • wood ear mushrooms
  • quinine (tonic) water
  • bitter melon (dark green melon found in Asian grocery stores)


3. If you took any new prescription or non-prescription medications prior to the drop in platelets

4. If you had any vaccinations or shots in the month prior to the drop in platelets

5. If you took any new supplements, vitamins or herbs prior to the drop in platelets

6. If you were exposed to pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals

7. If you have been diagnosed with lymphoma, lupus, hepatitis C or HIV

8. If you have recurrent stomachaches or an ulcer

9. If you had a fever or felt sick prior to the drop in platelets or are currently not feeling well

10. If you were bitten by an insect prior to the drop in platelets

11. If you were scratched or bitten by an animal or had contact with a new animal prior to the drop in platelets

12. If you had poison ivy or other skin irritation

13. If you recently traveled to another country

14. If others in your family have an autoimmune disease such as lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disease

15. If others in your family or ancestors have a bleeding disorder or bruise easily

16. If you’ve always bruised easily

17. If you have a long history of getting more colds, flu or other infections than your friends

18. If you have a hearing problem

19. If you experienced swelling or aching in your joints, sun sensitivity rashes, hair loss or the feeling of numbness or “pins and needles” in your extremities

20. If you have a history of problems with your thyroid gland

21. If you have recently been under a lot of stress

22. If you were recently hospitalized or treated for another condition

23. If you changed your diet or started a new exercise program

24. If you drink more than five alcoholic beverages per week

25. If your low platelets seem to go in monthly or periodic cycles