While the specific cause behind why ITP develops is usually unknown and can differ from person to person, it is known that numerous medications can cause acute thrombocytopenia. Although not common, more than 100 drugs as well as some herbal remedies and certain foods have been shown to trigger thrombocytopenia.
Some of the more common types of substance-induced thrombocytopenia include:
Many hospitalized patients receive heparin to prevent clotting. When antibodies form against heparin, they can also bind to a protein on platelets causing them to become very sticky. This process may cause life-threatening clots.
Resources and research providing insight into heparin-induced thrombocytopenia include:
Drinking alcoholic beverages regularly and in quantity has been shown to cause bone marrow suppression, defective platelet formation, a decrease in platelet lifespan and impaired platelet function. When repeated over many years, alcohol consumption can damage the liver, the organ responsible for making clotting factors and thrombopoietin, the protein that stimulates platelet production.
Resources and research providing insight into alcohol-induced thrombocytopenia include:
- Excess alcohol consumption is common in patients with cytopenia: studies in blood and bone marrow cells.
- Alcohol-induced disorders of the hematopoietic system
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination has been shown to cause thrombocytopenia in one of 25,000 to 40,000 vaccinations. There are also reports of low platelets resulting from the pneumonia, H influenzae B, varicella zoster virus (VZV) and hepatitis B vaccinations.
Resources and research providing insight into vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia include:
- MMR vaccine and idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura
- Consequence or coincidence? The occurrence, pathogenesis and significance of autoimmune manifestations after viral vaccines
- Immune thrombocytopenic purpura after recombinant hepatitis B vaccine: retrospective study of seven cases
Almost all chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer will affect the bone marrow, resulting in impaired platelet production. In other cases, the body can develop a cross-reaction to the medication and develop antibodies to both the drug and platelets. Learn more about the drugs and other substances that can cause thrombocytopenia.
Many chemicals, both naturally occurring as well as those used in everything from industrial production to lawn care, have been shown to trigger autoimmunity of one type or another. Learn about some of the toxins that have been shown to trigger thrombocytopenia.
Some foods, particularly those that contain quinine (such as tonic water, bitter melon) or aspartame (sweeteners used in diet soda) have been shown to trigger low platelets. Also food sensitivity or allergies may create a heightened immune response that may lead to a reduced platelet count. Learn more about foods that can cause thrombocytopenia.