When your blood has a low number of platelets—the small, disc-shaped cells that bind together when recognizing damaged blood vessels—the condition is called thrombocytopenia. But, this doesn’t automatically mean you have immune thrombocytopenia (ITP).
ITP is a diagnosis of exclusion Because there is no definitive test to diagnose ITP, your doctor will rule out other causes of low platelets, such as an underlying illness or medications you or your child may be taking. This makes it important to know, or at least be aware of, other diseases that may be mistaken for or misdiagnosed as ITP to make certain you receive the best treatment for your condition.
When it’s Not ITP
There is many possible causes of thrombocytopenia with the impact of symptoms ranging from trivial to life threatening. Distinguishing ITP from other conditions is usually determined by a physical examination, illness and medication history, assessment of a blood smear, additional blood tests and perhaps a bone marrow biopsy.
When thrombocytopenia is severe (a platelet count less than 20-30,000/microliter) and other obvious causes are ruled out, many doctors administer first-line conventional treatments for ITP, including corticosteroids (prednisone), anti-Rho(D) (anti-D) or intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG). A rapid response to these therapies supports the diagnosis of ITP; failure to respond to treatment should lead to further investigation of alternate causes of a low platelet count. Asking questions can help you and your doctor determine the correct diagnosis and best treatment.
Get to Know Other Disorders That Could Cause Thrombocytopenia or Exist Alongside ITP
There are more than 200 disorders that may include low platelets among their symptoms. Some of these disorders arise from a combination of acquired or inherited factors. causing them to fall into several low-platelet disease categories. Low platelets caused by disorders other than primary ITP are referred to as 'secondary ITP.' To learn more about the difference between primary and secondary ITP, visit here.
The different categories of low-platelet diseases and helpful information for each are listed below:
- Inherited Thrombocytopenia
- Non-Immune-Mediated Platelet Destruction
- Substance-Induced Thrombocytopenia
- Low Platelets Caused by Infectious Disease
- Immune-Mediated Platelet Destruction
- Low Platelets Associated with Other Autoimmune Diseases
- Low Platelets Associated with Cancer