Platelets Platelets The main components of blood include Plasma Red blood cells White blood cells Platelets read more 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
What causes a high platelet count?
Your body makes platelets and other blood cells, such as red blood cells Red Blood Cells The main components of blood include Plasma Red blood cells White blood cells Platelets read more and white blood cells White Blood Cells The main components of blood include Plasma Red blood cells White blood cells Platelets read more , 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:
A problem with blood-forming cells
A reaction to a disease
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.
What are the complications of a high platelet count?
Some people don't have any complications. But if you do, there are two main types:
Too much blood clotting
Too much bleeding
Too much clotting and too much bleeding seem like opposites. But both can result from having too many platelets.
Too much clotting
At first, having too many platelets makes your blood more likely to clot—clotting is the job of platelets. You may get clots in your legs ( DVT Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Thrombosis is when a blood clot (called a thrombus) blocks a blood vessel. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is when a blood clot forms inside a large vein. Usually the vein is deep in your leg, but... read more ), in your brain ( stroke Stroke A stroke is a sudden brain problem that happens when a blood vessel in your brain either gets blocked or breaks open and bleeds. Part of your brain stops getting blood. Brain tissue that doesn't... read more ), or in your lungs ( pulmonary embolism Pulmonary Embolism (PE) Pulmonary is a medical word that refers to the lungs. An embolism is a clump of material (usually a blood clot) moving through your bloodstream. An embolism usually gets stuck when it gets to... read more ).
Too much bleeding
When your platelet count is extremely high, the extra platelets actually interfere with blood clotting. Your blood vessels may leak blood on their own or after only a minor injury.
What are the symptoms of a high platelet count?
A high platelet count itself often doesn't cause any symptoms. But you may feel:
Burning or tingling in your fingertips, hands, and feet
Weak, dizzy, and tired
Symptoms of abnormal blood clots include:
A painful, swollen leg
Chest pain and shortness of breath
Weakness of one side of your body
Symptoms of excessive bleeding include:
How can doctors tell if I have a high platelet count?
Platelets are measured as part of a standard test called a complete blood count (CBC). To see why your platelets are high, doctors may do other blood tests, including special genetic tests. They also may need to take a small sample (biopsy) of your bone marrow and examine it under a microscope.
How do doctors treat a high platelet count?
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 Stem Cell Transplantation Stem cell transplantation is the removal of stem cells (undifferentiated cells) from a healthy person and their injection into someone who has a serious blood disorder. (See also Overview of... read more 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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