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Low blood platelet numbers can arise from and lead to an array of health conditions. The medical term for any drop in platelet count is called thrombocytopenia. Regardless of the cause, the consequences of this condition can be grave.
Thrombocytes are colorless blood cells that aid in blood clotting and scab formation, preventing excess blood loss when a vein is damaged. A lack of these clotting cells causes problems from severe bruising to fatal blood loss.
Normal platelet counts range from 150,000 to 450,000 per microliter. A count of 30,000 or lower involves the risk for severe blood loss, brain or organ bleeding. Other risks are specific to the underlying condition causing thrombocytopenia.
Health problems affecting the immune system and bone marrow production, such as HIV, lupus and hemolytic-uremic syndrome are risk factors for thrombocytopenia. Certain medications can also deplete platelet counts.
In some cases, surgery and other medical tests may be contraindicated due to the risk of uncontrolled bleeding. Treating the underlying problem is often the safest resolution, according to an article in the New York Times.
See a doctor if you notice blood in your urine or stools, bleed easily or regularly from your nose or gums, or if you notice a rash of small purple and red spots in your lower legs.