The condition of high platelet count can be an indicative of severe health problems in the body. We are here to know about the symptoms that this condition exhibits.
Besides producing red blood cells (for transporting oxygen in the body), and white blood cells (for fighting infections), the bone marrow also produces what are known as platelets. These, according to scientists, are circulating fragment of cells, and are not identified as true cells. Now the purpose of them traveling in the blood is to keep blood vessels from bleeding, when they are damaged. This they do by sticking to each other and to the damaged area in the blood vessels. In this way, they initiate a blood clotting process which prevents internal or external bleeding. Normally, a microliter of blood contains 50,000 to 450,000 of these blood clotting cells.
Now the condition of high platelet count may arise in two cases. In one case, the body may be caused to produce too many platelets because of underlying conditions such as blood loss, cancer, allergic reaction, problem with the kidneys, anemia caused by iron deficiency, any major surgery, trauma, heart attack, or certain medications. In this case, the condition is known as reactive thrombocytosis. In the second case, the cells that are responsible for making the platelets in the bone marrow (known as megakaryocytes), are overproduced, thus releasing too many platelets into the blood. This condition is known as essential thrombocythemia. So when a patient is diagnosed with a high platelet count, the doctor first tries to determine whether the patient has Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) or Reactive Thrombocytosis (RT).
What Indicates A Platelet Count that is Higher than Normal?
There are rarely any cases wherein, people with reactive thrombocytosis exhibit any signs or symptoms which may be indicative of the problem. And even if any symptoms show up, more often than not, they are related to the underlying causes, as mentioned above.
→ Headache; although a headache may be caused by various other conditions, if it is accompanied by the following few symptoms, then it might be indicative of the condition of thrombocytosis.
→ The patient might have dizzy spells or lightheadedness; probably because of anemia, which is one of the causes of the condition.
→ Chest pain may also occur, and it could be due to heart attack.
→ Vision may change temporarily.
→ The patient might have numbness and tingling in his/her limbs.
→ Fainting may also be a common issue.
Now, if the platelet count is abnormally high because of essential thrombocythemia, then the patient might have the same symptoms along with a few more, such as throbbing or burning pain in the limbs, or a mild spleen enlargement. However, these symptoms are caused by a blood clot that commonly occur in the brain, hands and feet. To add to this, another indication of ET could be bleeding. This occurs in rare cases, where the platelet count is deemed to be dangerously high. Bleeding may occur, in the form of nosebleed, bloody stool, and from mouth or gums.
Tests and Treatment
Due to the absence of any specific symptoms, more often than not, people do not realize even if they are suffering from a high platelet count. The problem is usually revealed in routine blood tests. If the doctor suspects any such thing, then he would check for abnormal symptoms. And if there are any, such as the ones described above, then the patient would undergo a complete blood count test. A microscopic examination of a blood sample could also be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis. However, before beginning any treatment, the doctor would check if the person’s platelet count remains high for a consistent period of time. This is due to the fact that, there occur situations wherein, the platelet does rise, but temporarily.
If we speak of mild causes, for instance a surgery, or an allergic reaction, infection, etc., these can be dealt with easily, and the platelet count can be lowered. However, if chronic problems such as cancer, kidney failure, chronic infections, etc., can also be the cause. And if this is the case, then until the condition is brought under control, the platelet count is more likely to remain higher than normal.
No method guarantees the prevention of high platelet count thus, avoiding complications is important. In case of reactive thrombocytosis, the situation might not be so severe. However, if it is essential thrombocythemia then steps are taken to keep blood clots from forming, as some of them could be life-threatening as well.