It is FINALLY September, and we are getting closer to the fall season, and hopefully, some much cooler temperatures (which us Texans can appreciate!). This month also happens to be the National ITP Awareness month, which was announced by the Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA) in 2010. Many people may not be aware of ITP, and some may not be very familiar as to what ITP is. I was able to conduct some research on the topic in order to share it with all of you.
WHAT IS ITP?
Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a rare disorder that can sometimes lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding. This results from unusually low levels of platelets, which are the cells that help blood clot. Typically, ITP is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking and destroying platelets. A normal platelet count is between 150,000 and 400,000/microliter of blood. Someone with ITP may have platelet counts lower than 100,000/microliter of blood with no other reason to have low platelet counts. Currently, there is not a definitive test to diagnose ITP.
People with ITP may have purple bruises or reddish-purple dots that look like a rash. Some other symptoms may include bleeding from the gums, nosebleeds, blood in urine or stools, and unusually heavy menstrual cycles. In severe cases, ITP can cause bleeding of the brain, which can be fatal.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Younger women seem to be more at risk of developing ITP. Additionally, people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and antiphospholipid syndrome are also more likely to be affected by ITP. For adults, ITP can occur after infection of HIV, hepatitis or H. pylori (the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers). While this disorder is not as commonly seen in children, it can still occur. In children, it typically follows a viral infection, such as the flu or the mumps.
Treatments of ITP vary depending on the person-lifestyle, platelet count, age, severity of symptoms, personal preferences, and other associated diseases. All have an effect on what treatment a person may require. Commonly used medications for ITP include steroids and medicines that assist bleeding. Some people choose not to receive medication for ITP and live with low platelet counts.
RAISING AWARENESS ABOUT ITP
As I researched ITP, I found that the PDSA posted various ways in which one can participate in ITP Awareness Month, which I thought was awesome and wanted to share. (I will also attach the link at the end of the blog.) You can write a letter to your congressperson stating why you care to shed light and raise awareness on the topic, and the PDSA has a sample template that you can use. You can also participate in the National Walk/Run: Pump it Up for Platelets marathon, which the PDSA listed a variety of participating sites as well. The PDSA mentioned that sharing flyers and brochures about ITP awareness at public places within your community is also helpful. Whichever avenue you decide to take to raise awareness of ITP will be the right choice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family.