10 Causes of Low Blood Platelets and What Does Low Plt Mean?

Low platelets in your blood is a common sign of prolonged bleeding and for other diseases, got to know what makes platelets count to be low and what does it mean for you to have low count of platelets in blood test.
First to know, platelets means “tiny plates” which is running all the time through our blood stream, the main target of platelets is to seal the leaks after injuries.
Each man and woman must have a number of platelets inside bloodstream ranging from 150,000 to 450,000 cells per cumm, to know the specific range for your age, please go to Normal Platelet Count by Age
The platelets count below 140,000 cells/cumm is considered to be low and called “thrombocytopenia” in medical terms.
Platelet Blood Test
Is a test done in a medical laboratory to show the count and morphology of platelets,
the short code is “PLT”, and another name is “Thrombocyte Count”.
In a lab report you may a letter beside the result like that:
N: means Normal results, L: means low platelets, H, means elevated count,
The best time for platelet test when you recognize prolonged unknown bleeding.
Test for platelet count dosn’t require to fast before doing the test.
The waiting time to receive results is 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
The cost varies from lab to lab, however “CBC with differential and platelet count Blood Test” may cost up to USD $45.
CPT code: 85049, see the full article at LabCorp.

What Does Low Blood Platelets Count Mean?

When you receive your blood test results and platelets count comes low in CBC test, that means:
You don’t have enough platelets in your blood which makes your body to be unable to form clots properly, you will have a tendency of bleeding upon injury more than the healthy person,
Mild low platelets count is less significant and means transient state, pre-recovery, or variation of laboratories.
However, in severe platelets deficiency you may show superficial bleeding in the skin that appears as a rash of tiny-sized purple spots (in medical science it’s called petechiae), usually seen on the lower legs and forearms as well as excessive bruising (the medical term is purpura)
Low Blood Platelet count doesn’t necessarily mean you have a cancer, more blood tests for cancer
so that please carefully read the possible reasons to understand your platelets level then you have the right to ask about your results.

purpura looks like on hand foot skin

purpura looks like on hand foot skin

What Causes Low Blood Platelets count?

The most common cause of low platelet count is Pregnancy, Anaemia, or Leukemia.
Here is each reason of low platelets with other blood test results in order to simply understand platelets low count.

Trapped platelets by enlarged spleen causing low platelets in circulation

The platelets made inside bone marrow and face their fate in the spleen, a number of diseases can enlarge our spleen:
A child with Infection mononucleosis will suffer from spleen enlargement “splenomegaly” and show such blood count results:
Total leukocyte count “TLC” 17,000,
Plt 100 cells/cumm (means thrombocytopenia)
Monocyte count 20% (means monocytosis)
Lymphocyte count 60%
EBV IgM Positive 2.5 (negative up to 1.0).
A 50 years old man with liver cirrhosis or cystic fibrosis, can have his spleen to be enlarged and harbor too many platelets which causes platelets test to show decreased number.
To recognize such a case you may show some of these results in your testing report:
Liver enzymes SGOT 20 SGPT 25, albumin 2.5 (normal 3.5 – 5.2 mg/dL), High liver enzyme count explained
Hemoglobin 10.0 g/dL,
Platelets 70,

Decreased production of platelets by bone marrow will develop low blood platelets

Low count of blood platelets after bone marrow failure can be due to many reasons such as:
Patient of Leukemia, leucocyte count 200,000 and platelets 5,000
Aplastic  anemia accompanied by reduction in platelets production and may show Hgb level 7.0 with PLT 20
Hepatitis C virus or HIV AIDS virus affect bone marrow ability to produce adequate platelets, blood test results may show HIV positive or HCV-Ab test positive, platelets 80, hemoglobin 9.0
Patient receiving Chemotherapy drugs for cancers usually have platelets test result below 100 and anaemia as well as neutropenia in CBC test.
Adult man who addicts to alcohol consumption will inhibit platelets production and have low platelets numbers.

Reasons accelerate breakdown of platelets by Spleen and cause shortage of platelets in your blood

Examples of such conditions include:
Low platelets count in Pregnancy : pregnant woman consume nutrients more than the normal female, thus the body uses more vitamins and proteins inside cells to enrich fetus, the reasons behind high destruction of platelets and platelets to be low during pregnancy, but it’s mild and improves after delivery of baby.
blood results may come like this:
Beta sybunit HCG hormone 150,000, do you know what is B-HCG?
Hemogobin 9.4
Platelet count 135,000
Total leucocyte count shows mild leucocytosis (15,000) and absolute neutrophilia (76%)

A person has anti-platelets autoantibodies will develop Immune thrombocytopenia.

The natural immunity in our bodies may attack blood platelets and kill them by mistake which cause low platelets level in the blood test.
such antiplatelets antibodies will be present in the blood of patients have diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Scroll down to know the possible steps to treat antibodies of platelets.

Unknown Reasons of Low Blood Platelet Count

it’s called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.
thrombo- means related to platelets, -cytopenia means lack of cells, purpura means a rash of purple spots on the skin caused by internal bleeding due to lack of platelets.
Low platelets count by unknown reasons is the commonest in children.
If you have a blood infection with some Bacteria
Bacteria inside the blood will kill platelets and cause low platelets in blood test, persons used to eat raw or undercooked meat are prune to such bacteria-caused low platelets.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the commonest bacteria causing low blood platelets.
Recommendations: Platelets count test, Stool examination, Urine examination, and Anaerobic blood culture.
A woman has a blood clot will use up a large numbers of platelets and decrease them in tests
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is the meidcal term for low blood platelets count after forming large clots in the body, whereas the term thrombotic means “by clots”
High prothrombin test or elevated D-dimer test can predict the blood clots

A man suffering from kidney failure and has high blood urea will have thrombocytopenia.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome is the medical term for a disease come after impairment of kidney function.
Kidney failure will lead to elevated urea in the blood which toxify the blood and deteriorate blood cells including platelets, large drop in the blood count of platelets is common
Blood results looks like: Creatinine 6.5, BUN 70, hemoglobin level 7.0, platelets 40.
Know more about: kidney failure test

Intake of heparin, quinine, sulfa-containing antibiotics and anticonvulsants may destroy platelets

By a certain dose, those drugs confuse the immune system and lead the body to attack our platelets and destroy them.

Are you under risk of thrombocytopenia, am i under risk?

if your one of these persons you may have low platelets and should take a blood test to reassure:

  1. A child under 13 years old.
  2. Old man with kidney function failure.
  3. A girl which is pregnant.
  4. A person eating unhealthy foods.
  5. A boy complain from blood infections.

How to increase blood platelets?

With some foods and supplements rich in Vitamin A, Folate, and Vitamin K the bone marrow can restore the normal platelet count after mild decrease, for instance the Papaya, Pomegranate, Pumpkin, Wheatgrass, as well as Milk will help body platelets to multiply and show higher in the test.
Treatment of moderate low platelet count may includes:
But, too low platelets count for instance less than 20,000 in particular must have blood or platelets transfusion  in order to enhance the blood normal levels quickly then your doctor have to follow up with medications.
Chronic disease accompanied by a decrease in platelets can only have few chances of treatment under the chronic status.
Other treatments for severe low count of platelets:

  1. The commonest treatment for extreme low blood platelets under 5,000 is to have red blood cells or platelet transfusions.
  2. Changing medications that are causing a low platelet count
  3. Stop alcohol and abuse drugs help the body restore natural count of platelets.
  4. If you have anti platelet anti body then your doctor may subscribe drugs that suppress your immune system or use corticosteroids to block platelet antibodies.
  5. If the enlarged spleen is the reason behind the decreased numbers then a splenectomy, or the surgical removal of the spleen

What should my platelets to be?
150,000 to 450,000 is the most commonest normal range of platelets and you should keep it within the nominated levels.
Normal platelets levels after cancer depends on the effectiveness of the treatment plan and usually seen between 50,000 to 130,000.
After pregnancy normal platelet level is 140,000 to 400,000.

When is the best time to see a doctor?
If not properly treated, thrombocytopenia can lead to serious complications. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice:

  1. excessive bleeding
  2. bleeding from the mouth or nose after brushing your teeth
  3. headaches from minor injuries
  4. easy bruising that gets worse over time

How to know you have a low platelets?
You must do a blood work to know if you have a blood low platelets or not.
The blood test which include platelets count is called “Complete Blood Picture” or “Platelet Count test”, after that you have to go to a specialist to interpret results and give you the right medical recommendation.
More about CBC test.
However, you are allowed to post in our forum any kind of results and we are responsible to give you a suitable medical advice.

Dr.Megan Ralf

A Medical laboratory Scientist who devoted his life to medical and laboratory sciences, writes his everyday expertise dealing with various pathological conditions through laboratory diagnosis of different body fluids, also participating in many workshops for first aids, infection control, and urgent care. Also Dr Megan Ralf coaching many medical teams.

You may also like...