Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that help your blood clot. A high platelet count can cause problems with blood clotting.
Sometimes your body makes too many platelets
You might develop clots in your blood vessels or have unusual bleeding
Your hands and feet may burn and tingle
Doctors do blood tests to see why you have too many platelets and sometimes take a small sample of your bone marrow
Doctors will give you medicines to ease your symptoms and lower the platelet count
Your body makes platelets and other blood cells, such as red blood cells and white blood cells, in your bone marrow. The marrow is the soft material in the center of your bones. Platelets come from the same blood-forming cells that make other blood cells.
A high platelet count can be caused by:
Sometimes blood-forming cells just make too many platelets. This is usually because there's a problem with one of the genes that control the making of platelets. This problem usually happens after about age 50, but sometimes it happens to young women. Less often, the problem involves genes that also control other blood cells. This can result in a more serious blood disorder.
Often, a high platelet count is a reaction to a disease such as certain cancers, infections, or immune system problems.
Some people don't have any complications. But if you do, there are two main types:
Too much clotting and too much bleeding seem like opposites. But both can result from having too many platelets.
A high platelet count itself often doesn't cause any symptoms. But you may feel:
Symptoms of abnormal blood clots include:
Symptoms of excessive bleeding include:
Doctors will treat any medical problem that has caused your high platelet count. When that problem gets better, your platelet count should go down.
Doctors may give you small doses of aspirin to help ease mild symptoms. You'll likely be admitted to the hospital if you have a lot of bleeding, or if you have a heart attack or stroke because of clots caused by the high platelet count.
Doctors may try to lower the amount of platelets in your blood with:
Platelet exchange—doctors remove some blood, take platelets out of it, then return the blood to your body
Rarely, stem cell transplantation if you're young, have a donor, and other treatments have been unsuccessful
You'll need blood tests every so often to make sure that your platelet count hasn't gone back up.
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