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Thrombocytopenia is a medical condition where the number of platelets in the blood decreases alarmingly. Platelets are vital to our well being and even survival. They function by helping form a sticky plug that is essential in stopping bleeding from our body.

A lot of people who suffer from thrombocytopenia may not have any symptoms at all. Once the number of platelets falls beyond a certain limit, though, symptoms like an increased amount of bleeding or those associated with that occurrence can become visible.

Causes of thrombocytopenia

There are two basic reasons why your body may not have enough platelets. One is that not enough of them are being formed and the second is that the platelets being formed are being destroyed at a faster than normal rate.

The rate of production of platelets can be affected by a condition called as aplastic anemia in which the bone marrow does not produce any of the blood cells, or in people affected by leukemia, lymphoma, viral diseases like HIV, mumps, rubella, or certain genetic conditions.

The destruction of platelets can take at a faster than normal rate in people that are suffering from certain autoimmune diseases, as a reaction to certain antibiotics like phenytoin or vancomycin, in certain rare conditions like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or certain viral infections.

In some cases, the spleen may remove more of the platelets than normal leading to a drop in the number of platelets in the blood.

Can marijuana cause thrombocytopenia?

There is currently no compelling scientific evidence that marijuana use can cause thrombocytopenia. The number of platelets dropping as a response to heavy marijuana use has been investigated in numerous studies but there is nothing to suggest that there is a direct link between the two occurrences.

Most studies found no evidence, a few found a co-incidental drop in platelets that could have been through other factors present, and the odd case study finds a link as well. The scientific weight of isolated case studies, though, is not enough to conclusively find a connection between the decrease in platelet numbers and marijuana use.

Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

People may notice that their wounds bleed for a longer time than is necessary, or that they develop small bruises across their body. Frequent nosebleeds are also a noticeable symptom.  The diagnosis of thrombocytopenia is made through diagnostic blood tests.

Once the blood tests confirm the decrease in platelet count, treatment will begin depending upon the level of platelets still present in the blood. For a minor decrease in platelet count, the doctors will advise monitoring and caution but no active treatment will be necessary.

In other cases where the platelet count has fallen significantly, the treatment involves the use of steroids, blood transfusion, splenectomy (removal of the spleen from the body), making sure that no other medication which compromises platelet function is being taken by the patient, and taking common sense tips to avoid potential injury.

Conclusion

Thrombocytopenia can be a serious life-threatening condition and is associated with a number of potential causes. The ultimate thing to do is to follow the advice of your doctor and stop any kind of external contaminant/irritant that they believe could contribute to a decrease in platelet count.   

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