The information in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Instead, consult your physician or any licensed healthcare providers if you have specific questions.
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Thrombocytopenia is characterized by low platelet count. Mild thrombocytopenia may not show symptoms and is often detected through a complete blood count. Still, even if it’s not as life-threatening as severe thrombocytopenia, it’s crucial to hit the normal platelet range by following your doctor’s prescribed treatment. In addition, you can improve your diet, manage stress, and get more physically active to help increase your low platelet count.
|Pro tip: A complete blood count (CBC) is used to help diagnose certain health conditions. It’s also a vital component of health and wellness testing. Order a CBC online to monitor your platelet count and other blood cell parameters, such as the mean corpuscular value (MCV) (RBCs).|
- Alter Your Diet
Several nutrients aid in the production of blood cells, including platelets. With this in mind, you can naturally increase low platelet count by adding natural sources of such nutrients to your diet. Here are the nutrients you must secure and their best food sources.
- Vitamin K
When it comes to blood clotting, vitamin K and platelets both play crucial roles. Vitamin K activates specific proteins necessary for clotting formation, which work alongside platelets. Therefore, if vitamin K deficiency develops at the same time as thrombocytopenia, it can exacerbate both conditions.
Green leafy vegetables are renowned sources of vitamin K. Consider adding kale, cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and spinach to your diet.
- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 aids in the maturation of blood cells in the bone marrow. Hence, to promote platelet production, you must ensure you have enough vitamin B12 derived from dairy, poultry, meat, fortified cereals, fish, and shellfish.
|Did You Know? Although insufficient vitamin B12 impacts overall blood cell production, it’s not directly linked to thrombocytopenia. Nonetheless, it can lead to health problems like anemia, depression, and cognitive issues. Learn how to detect vitamin B deficiency through common signs and symptoms.|
Similar to vitamin B12, iron is also essential for the growth and maturation of platelets. In fact, severe iron deficiency can result in thrombocytopenia or low platelet count. With this in mind, consume foods rich in iron, like organ meats, red meat, legumes, seeds, shellfish, and beans.
If you’re unsure about how to plan your diet to increase low platelet count naturally, consider working with a nutritionist or consult your healthcare provider.
- Consider Herbal Remedies
You’ll probably encounter various herbal home remedies for low platelet count. However, before trying them out or creating a concoction of your own, ensure they are backed by scientific evidence and approved by your healthcare provider.
Boosting platelet count with papaya leaf extract
Several studies showed the ability of papaya leaf extract to halt the decrease of platelets, making it a promising supplement for thrombocytopenia treatment. For example, a systematic review published in the International Journal of Applied Basic Medical Research highlighted the high potential of papaya leaf extract to increase platelets among dengue patients.
To prepare the extract, gather mature leaves from a fruit-bearing papaya tree. Wash them thoroughly and pound about 50 g of the leaves using a mortar and pestle. Mix it with boiled water and continue to press the mixture to create a consistent pulp. You can add sugar or natural sweeteners for flavor. Finally, squeeze the pulp to acquire the extract.
Keep in mind that while papaya leaf extract has been the subject of various scientific studies, the clinical trials for its efficacy are limited. Hence, consult your doctor first to ensure it complements your treatment.
Herbal medicine for increasing immunity
Inadequate platelet count makes you more vulnerable to microbial invasion, causing various types of diseases. That said, consider boosting your immunity through these natural remedies.
- Turmeric: Curcumin, a substance found in turmeric, is known as an immunity booster. It promotes the functions of immune cells and regulates inflammation.
- Astragalus: A popular Chinese medicinal plant, astragalus has shown properties that reduce inflammation and stimulate the immune system. It is often prepared as a decoction, primarily using its roots.
- Elderberry: Elderberry is rich in antioxidants and immunity boosters that help protect you from microbial invasion. In fact, a study published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies showed its effectiveness in treating viral respiratory infections based on consolidated randomized trials and clinical records.
Although alternative medicine does influence the rate of treatment for conditions like thrombocytopenia, remember that it has to go hand-in-hand with what your doctor prescribes. Otherwise, you may compromise the effectiveness of the medication or medical procedure. Get your doctor’s approval before consuming these herbal medicines.
- Improve Your Lifestyle Choices
Your daily routine and habits can impact your risk for infections. If you have a low platelet count, an infection is the last thing you’d like to acquire, as your immune system won’t be as strong as when you have adequate platelets. With this in mind, strengthen your immune response by doing the following.
Manage Your Stress
It’s no secret that stress impacts your overall health, including platelet activity. If you’re subjected to frequent and chronic stress, you increase the likelihood of infection. In addition, stress can alter platelet bioactivity, increasing clotting, which could further lower platelet count.
To manage stress better, make sure not to overwork yourself. Maintain a work-life balance where you can allot time for recreation and de stressing activities like mindful meditation, yoga, pottery, reading, and more.
Get Regular Exercise
Being physically active improves blood circulation, promoting platelet production in the bone marrow. In addition, it helps your immune system fight off infections that can aggravate thrombocytopenia.
However, consult with your doctor first, especially if you plan to engage in strenuous workouts. If you’re only permitted to do light exercises, consider physical activities you can do at home and incorporate them into your schedule.
Ensure Adequate Sleep
Poor sleep quality can adversely affect your immune response, increasing your risk of inflammation. If you have thrombocytopenia, this can impede your effort to increase low platelet count.
Make sure to attain seven to eight hours of sleep nightly. If you have trouble sleeping, let your doctor know. You can also consider some proven tips to sleep better, especially if you have anxiety.
|Did You Know? Aside from poor immunity, sleep deprivation can also negatively impact cardiovascular health. In fact, inadequate sleep increases your risk of heart attack.|
Complications of Untreated Low Platelet Count
Medical intervention must be sought even in mild cases of thrombocytopenia. If you have low platelet counts, your healthcare provider will determine whether it’s caused by an injury or a specific health condition, such as cancer, spleen enlargement, or bone marrow infection.
If the low platelet count is not treated, it could lead to the following complications:
- Increased risk of infection
A continually dropping platelet count increases your likelihood of developing infection as these blood cells help identify pathogens or disease-causing microbes and release proteins against bacteria that help limit the zone of infection. Thrombocytopenia can delay immune response as platelets can sense pathogens and activate a pathway that allows for swift eradication of the microbe.
- Hemorrhage and Bruising
When the low platelet count is caused by bleeding, failing to seek immediate medical attention could result in hemorrhage or drastic blood loss, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. In addition, if the bleeding is slower, you may notice bruising in your skin.
There are two types of bruising linked to thrombocytopenia:
- Purpura: A purpura bruise shows large patches of discoloration ranging from red and purple to brown, typically measuring over 3 mm. Purpura often suggests significant bleeding and should warrant a trip to the emergency room.
- Petechiae: This type of bruising is small, dot-like red or purple spots on the skin. It indicates minor bleeding caused by a rupture in the capillaries.
- Preterm birth among pregnant women: Untreated low platelet count can cause maternal and fetal health complications that could lead to preterm delivery or even fetal death. Insufficient platelets can adversely influence oxygen and nutrient supply to the fetus. Plus, mothers undergoing episiotomy or cesarean section have an increased risk of profuse bleeding.
|Pro tip: The bleeding that causes low platelet count can occur in any area of your body. While external bleeding is easier to identify compared to internal bleeding, some signs could indicate the latter. For example, you can spot signs of blood in your stool, which may suggest gastrointestinal bleeding. However, the only way to be certain if bleeding is indeed involved is to consult your doctor and take the prescribed tests.|
Common Medical Treatments for Thrombocytopenia
Keep in mind that thrombocytopenia is not typically a standalone medical condition. It comes as a symptom of other diseases or an active injury. Hence, the treatment for low platelets begins with identifying the underlying cause and the severity of the symptoms.
Nevertheless, here are some of the common treatments for thrombocytopenia:
- Platelet transfusion
A platelet transfusion is a temporary option if the platelet count drops drastically due to severe thrombocytopenia. The platelets are derived from donated blood, facilitated by a healthcare professional who determines the amount of platelets you need based on the severity of the condition. (Source: Transfusion Medicine Reviews)
- Medications for increased platelet production
When the bone marrow cannot produce enough platelets, medication to stimulate platelet production may be prescribed to treat the low platelet count. Romiplostim, for example, is a drug that has the same impact as thrombopoietin, a growth factor that regulates the production of platelets. (Source: Pharmacy and Therapeutics)
- Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy
Immunoglobulin therapy is a treatment option for autoimmune diseases that cause platelet destruction, in which antibodies called immunoglobulins are injected into the bloodstream. These antibodies prevent the immune system from attacking platelets, which causes thrombocytopenia. (Source: Annals of Blood)
Your healthcare provider will prescribe more specific treatment, primarily to address the actual cause of the low platelet count. Hence, make sure to seek a professional medical opinion, including on which of the abovementioned tips for naturally increasing low platelets complement the treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the normal platelet count?
The normal platelet count is between 150,000 and 450,000 per microliter of blood. If the value is below the lower threshold, it may indicate thrombocytopenia.
What happens if platelets are low?
Severe low platelet count can lead to excessive bleeding. Platelets play a significant role in the blood clotting mechanism in cases of damage or injury in the blood vessels. These clots act as a plug that prevents the blood from leaking. As platelets decrease, the likelihood of hemorrhage increases, which can further develop into other complications such as susceptibility to infection.
How can I increase my platelets fast?
A platelet transfusion allows faster replenishment of lost platelets due to heavy bleeding, which, in turn, increases platelet count. It’s essentially a blood transfusion but with a higher concentration of platelets. It’s a temporary treatment until the cause of bleeding or thrombocytopenia is determined.
Can anemia cause low platelets?
Some forms of anemia can cause thrombocytopenia, including aplastic anemia and, in some cases, iron deficiency anemia. Aplastic anemia disrupts the blood cell production of the bone marrow, affecting the number of red blood cells and platelets. On the other hand, iron deficiency anemia can have thrombocytopenia as a side effect during iron replacement therapy.
The Bottom Line
Never underestimate a low platelet count, as shown in your complete blood count results, even if you don’t observe any symptoms. Make sure to consult your doctor and improve your lifestyle, specifically your diet, stress management, and physical activity. Ask your doctor which herbal remedies can supplement and complement your treatment to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits of both worlds.