You have probably heard of platelets, but do you know what they are? Platelets are found in the blood plasma of mammals. They are colorless, and they are shaped like disks. What is the role of platelets in the blood, and what does it mean when your platelet count is low?
The role of platelets in the blood
Also called a thrombocyte , a platelet is a minute, irregularly shaped, disc-like structure that is found in the blood plasma of mammals. Blood clots are vital to help prevent blood loss. Platelets are important in blood coagulation, otherwise known as blood clotting. They are formed by the detachment of part of the cytoplasm of a megakaryocyte. They lack a nucleus, hemoglobin, or DNA, but they do contain enzymes and mitochondria.
The significance of a low platelet count
Platelet count is the number of platelets found in the blood. The normal range is between 200,00 and 300,000 platelets per mm3 of blood. A low platelet count, also called thrombocytopenia , can have few symptoms. In a few rare cases, severe thrombocytopenia can cause internal bleeding. With treatment, the platelet count should increase.
Treatment to help increase platelets
When my sister was hospitalized with thrombocytopenia–among other reasons–this past summer, she was given blood transfusions to help bring the platelet count up. Medications and even surgery can help improve chronic thrombocytopenia. However, this condition often occurs as a result of a separate disorder (leukemia, immune system malfunction, medication side effect), so someone with a low count might undergo treatment for the other problem first.
Platelets have an important role in the blood. They thicken blood to make it clot, which prevents internal bleeding. When someone has a low platelet count, they should avoid blood thinning medications, since their blood is already thin. Blood transfusions can help bring the platelet count up, which will thicken the blood.
Definition of Platelet, The Medical Dictionary
Thrombocytopenia (Low Platelet Count) , The Mayo Clinic
** Note: This author does not claim to be a medical professional. If you have symptoms of thrombocytopenia, or any other blood disorder, please consult with your doctor immediately.**