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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Thrombocytopenic purpura, or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), is a bleeding disorder that occurs when your body does not have enough platelets. Platelets are cells that help your blood clot. ITP causes your immune system to create antibodies against platelets. Then your spleen destroys the platelets. You may not know that you have ITP early in the disease. Symptoms of ITP are often mild, but there may be times that bleeding can be severe and become life-threatening.
- Medicines help your immune system and decrease platelet destruction.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Self-care to help prevent bleeding:
Examine your skin for minor bumps, scrapes, and cuts. These injuries can increase your risk for bleeding.
- Use caution with skin and mouth care. Use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush to keep your skin and gums from bleeding. Use lip balm to prevent your lips from cracking. If you shave, use an electric shaver.
- Do not strain when you have a bowel movement. This can increase pressure in your brain and could cause bleeding. Ask your healthcare provider about a stool softener or laxative if you are constipated. Do not use enemas or suppositories.
- Avoid activities that may cause scratches or bruises. Wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injury. Ask your healthcare provider which activities are safe for you.
- Do not take aspirin or NSAIDs. These medicines can cause you to bleed and bruise more easily.
- Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have ITP. Ask your healthcare provider where to get these items.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have bleeding from your gums, mouth, or nose.
- You have irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding.
- You have blood in your urine or bowel movement.
- You have more bruises or small red or purple spots on your skin.
- You become confused or have trouble thinking clearly.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have bleeding that does not stop after you elevate and place pressure on the area.
- You vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded, dizzy, or weak.
- You have weakness on one side of your body, a severe headache, difficulty speaking, or a change in vision.
- You have chest pain, tightness, or heaviness that spreads to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.