Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a rare autoimmune condition characterized by low blood platelet counts. ITP is caused by the body’s immune system destroying healthy platelets, leading to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding, in addition to initiating a daily roller coaster of emotions and ongoing medical management.
The specific cause behind why ITP develops is usually unknown and can differ from person to person. ITP has been shown to develop:
- After a viral or bacterial infection
- After certain immunizations
- After exposure to a toxin
- In association with another illness, such as lupus or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
The symptoms of ITP can vary greatly from person to person, and some with ITP may show no signs of having the condition. In general, the lower your platelet count, the more symptoms you may have including:
- Easy or excessive bruising
- Petechiae, tiny red dots on the skin caused by broken blood vessels or leaks in a capillary wall
- Bleeding from the gums or nose
- Blood in urine or stools
- Unusually heavy menstrual flow
- Feeling tired or fatigued
ITP is considered a rare disease as it affects less than 200,000 people in the United States.