Low platelet count
August 22, 2014 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Is anyone running a low plt count? How low? Mine is 130 and think to see a hematologist soon. My count was always kinda low but this is the lowest. Two other times it was 127 and 135 and the rest was above 150. Do you have experience with this? Did you see a doc? What did they find?
posted by barexamfreak to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
My husband's platelet count is usually in the 30s. He gets his platelets monitored regularly but the doctor won't doing anything to try to get it up as long as it stays above 30. I think that they like to have it above 50 for surgery but they can always do an emergency infusion if he needs unexpected surgery. So, get it check out - for all I know it could be a symptom of something very serious but if it is nothing more than low platelets be reassured that there is a big difference between "below normal" and "you have a problem"
posted by metahawk at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2014

I would agree with meta hawk, but you should get it checked out just to be safe.

Are you on any medications? My dad's plummetted at one point and it turned out to be some crazy reaction to a drug he was on at the time.
posted by scrute at 8:02 AM on August 22, 2014

It's good that you're going to be seen by a doctor soon. I totally understand that you're anxious! But without the rest of your medical history (actually, even with the rest of your medical history...), internet strangers really aren't going to be able to help you all that much with anecdotes. It'd probably be more helpful if you can focus on giving your doctor a good, clear summary of any other symptoms you are experiencing so that he or she can best diagnose and treat you.

Some things to think about: are you experiencing any easy bruising or unusual bleeding? Seeing wounds that don't heal well? Pain? Energy level? Blood in your urine or stools? Have you started any medications recently? Is there any chance you might be pregnant?

Take care!
posted by gemutlichkeit at 8:08 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

My count has been hovering around 119 - 130 for the past 15 years that I've kept records. The reference range at the labs used by UCLA (where my blood panel readings are taken) are 143 - 398. So my readings are outside of the range. I've had 3 different primary physicians during that time, and not a single one of them has brought up this on their own. Just going down the list of any out-of-range values (f.ex. my bilirubin is high), I've brought up my low plate count. None of them were worried.

First, you have to understand what a range is - a range does not indicate what is healthy and outside of the range is unhealthy. The range is simply the spread of values that holds for 95% or 98% or some such high percentage of people tested at a given lab (different labs can have different ranges). That's it. If you are outside of the range, does not mean you are unhealthy, just unusual, in the same way that if a given color of eyes occurs only in, say, 1% of a given population does not mean you have unhealthy eyes, just unusual.

Having said that, it all depends on what is being measured. For some things - most of the CBP in fact - there are limits to how far out of range you can be and still be healthy. If you are very low in blood platelets, it can be a sign of some underlying unhealthy process (like, in the worst case, certain blood cancers etc.), and it can have practical implications for things like surgery. However, from talking to my doctors and from reading, a value like 119 or 129, is only slightly out of range and not likely to be of any concern on those accounts.

It is not unusual for the platelet count to be different throughout the years (mine ranged from 119 to 130), or even a reading from two tests merely weeks apart. Unless the swings are very large and/or there is a large precipitous change (say, 250 to 110), I'd say, based on my reading what I can find, there is little cause for concern over very minor swings, which I'd regard a change from 150 to 130.

You ask my experience with this, and that's what I can report. I am still alive and fine with 119. I don't bruise easily. I've had minor surgeries and a lot of dental work. I've cut and injured myself, but didn't bleed excessively and healed very quickly (in fact, compared to f.ex. my wife whose platelet count is within normal range, I heal very quickly). Zero consequences of that 119. My life - and apparently health - seem to be completely unaffected by the 119 count. None of my doctors were even concerned enough to mention it on their own, or concerned in the least when I brought it up.

Do you have any symptoms that might be associated with a "low platelet count" (google that term and see - usually it's a bad idea in that it frightens people unnecessarily, but in this case I never found anything particularly dire, with the exception of blood cancer which you'd have to be quite unlucky statistically to have). And when you find something dire that low platelet count might be associated with, see if there are additional markers which help solidify a diagnosis - if not, odds are, you don't have the dire condition. You should see your CBP in the context of all the readings - if only one value is unusual, that's not particularly alarming - what are your other readings? For example, how is your Mean Platelet Volume? How are you feeling? Are there any consequences to your low count? Do you bruise easily? Do you have purpura? Anything out of the ordinary? Has your health changed from the time you had a higher reading of 150 to a lower one of 130?

A visit to the hematologist will hopefully give you peace of mind. I doubt s/he'll find anything worrisome with a reading like 130 in the absence of any symptoms or any other confirming values for other readings. IANAD. Best of luck!
posted by VikingSword at 8:45 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm not a hematologist, but I run a CBC on the vast majority of patients that I see, and having a platelet count a little lower than normal (110-140s range) is not very unusual. A lot of people have this.

If you want to know a little more technical info about it, here's a good link. It goes through many of the possible causes. As the article notes, platelets from 70 to 150 is considered mild thrombocytopenia, people with counts of 50 to 70 are often asymptomatic, people with counts from 30 to 50 may bleed more than usual with trauma, 10 to 30 may cause significant bleeding with minimal trauma, and counts less than 10 can result in spontaneous bleeding.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2014

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