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What is Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)?

By HERWriter
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Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura related image Photo: Getty Images

According to the National Heart Lung Blood Institute, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a bleeding disorder. In ITP, the blood doesn't clot as it should. This is due to a low number of blood cell fragments called platelets (PLATE-lets) or thrombocytes (THROM-bo-sites)."

ITP tends to affect children more than adults. Girls and boys are equally affected. However, women tend to more affected by ITP than men.

"In children, the disease sometimes follows a viral infection. In adults, it is more often a chronic (long-term) disease and can occur after a viral infection, with use of certain drugs, during pregnancy, or as part of an immune disorder," stated the United States National Library of Medicine website.

The exact cause of ITP is unknown but medical experts point to the possibility of autoimmune issues.

ITP is not contagious. There are two types of ITP, acute and chronic ITP.

The following are characteristics of acute ITP:

• Acute ITP is the most common form of ITP
• Acute ITP lasts less than six months
• Acute ITP mainly occurs in children
• Acute ITP usually occurs after a viral infection

The following are characteristics of chronic ITP:
• Chronic ITP affects women two to three times more often than men
• Chronic ITP lasts six months or longer
• Chronic ITP mostly affects adults
• There have been known cases of chronic ITP in children and teen but they are rare

One of the main symptoms of ITP is tiny purple or red dots on the skin which resemble a rash. These dots, which are the size of the top of a pin, are called petechiae (peh-TEE-kee-ay).

The United States National Library of Medicine and National Heart Lung Blood Institute websites stated the following are additional symptoms of ITP.

Symptoms of ITP include:

• Easy bruising
• Nosebleed or bleeding in the mouth
• Abnormally heavy menstruation
• Bleeding into the skin causes a characteristic skin rash that looks like pinpoint red spots (petechial rash)
• Bleeding from the gums during dental work
• Heavy bleeding which may be difficult to stop

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Some of this information is out of date. "Chronic ITP affects women two to three times more often than men." While this may be true in child-bearing years, ITP effects men and women equally as they age.
"Chronic ITP lasts six months or longer" Chronic ITP is defined as ITP that lasts more than 12 months. ITP in teens is more like adult ITP and more apt to be chronic.

I could go on...but you get the point.

December 18, 2011 - 2:48pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura

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