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Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura


Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)

is a blood disorder that causes anemia and bleeding problems due to low platelet levels. Anemia is low levels of red blood cells. Without enough platelets, you can bleed in your organs, underneath your skin, or from the surface of your skin. TTP can also cause problems with kidney and brain function.

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Red or purple dots or bruises on the skin or mucus membranes (such as in the mouth)
  • Paleness or jaundice (yellow coloring of the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • Fatigue, achiness, weakness, or fever
  • Headache, confusion, or being less awake than usual
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your heart is beating faster than usual.
  • You urinate less than usual or not at all.
  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes are yellow.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have bruises or small red or purple dots on your skin or mucus membranes.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for TTP

may include plasma transfusions or plasma exchange. These procedures may help improve your platelet levels and control how your blood clots. You may need surgery to remove your spleen if your TTP is severe.

Do not take over-the-counter medicines before you talk to your healthcare provider:

This includes NSAIDs, vitamins, and herbal supplements. These medicines can make TTP worse. Ask your healthcare provider for a full list of medicines you should not take.

Do not play contact sports:

Examples of contact sports include football, wrestling, boxing, or hockey. Ask your healthcare provider which activities are safe for you.

Do not drink or eat anything that contains quinine:

Quinine can make TTP worse. Quinine is found in tonic water, flavored drinks, and some foods. Read all food and drink labels to check for quinine. Ask your healthcare provider for a full list of drinks and foods that contain quinine.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need to return for blood and urine tests. You may need plasmapheresis or plasma transfusions 1 time each week. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.