An ITP diagnosis and the low platelet count it causes are sometimes associated with a bacterial infection—and antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections have been shown to help raise platelet counts. There has been considerable research on the success of antibiotics used to treat H. pylori (helicobacter pylori) bacteria infections in those diagnosed with ITP. The treatment and eradication of other infections can also help raise the platelet count.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
A number of studies have linked ITP and H. pylori1, a type of bacteria that infects more than 50 percent of the world's population2, which has also been associated with ulcers. Many ITP specialists recommend testing ITP patients for H. pylori since correcting the problem and possibly raising the platelet count through antibiotics is less costly and has fewer side effects than many other ITP treatments.
The success rate of raising platelet counts by treating H. pylori has been shown to vary by region and ethnicity. Clinical trials completed in Italy and Japan show more positive results than those from the U.S.5; however, some people in the United States have recovered by treating the infection.
Other Bacterial Diseases
Other bacterial diseases such as those caused by ticks3, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and leptospirosis4 (transmitted by the urine of infected animals) can also result in low platelets and are typically treated with antibiotics. It is important patients report all physical complaints to their hematologist as well as a history of animal bites or unusual animal contact.
A Word of Caution
Certain antibiotics, including cephalosporin, penicillin and sulfa-containing drugs, may lower platelet counts in some people. Learn more about how antibiotics affect blood platelet levels.
- Stasi R et al. “Effects of eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection in patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura: a systematic review.” Blood. 2009 Feb 5;113(6):1231-40 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18945961
- Helicobacter Pylori Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicobacter_pylori
- Gayle A et al."Tick-borne Diseases." Am Fam Physician. 2001 Aug 1;64(3):461-467 http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010801/461.html
- Nicodemo AC et al. “Thrombocytopenia and leptospirosis.” Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 1990 Jul-Aug;32(4):252-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2101519
- Kuwana M, Ikeda Y. “Helicobacter pylori and immune thrombocytopenic purpura: unsolved questions and controversies.” Int J Hematol. 2006 Nov;84(4):309-15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17118756