Formal Name: Platelet Count
What is platelets test?
Platelets are the cell fragments circulating the bloodstream of our body that binds together any damaged blood vessels by clotting the nearby blood at the opening. It is a test that determines the number of platelets present in the blood of a person’s body using a sample amount of blood collected from the person.
When to get tested?
Platelet count is a part of the CBC (Complete Blood Count) test. Doctors also suggest the test when you show episodes of unexplained/prolonged bleeding or other symptoms related to platelet disorder. This test is also for those showing symptoms associated with low platelets or bleeding disorders.
- Easy or unexplained bruises
- From a small cut/wound, prolonged bleeding
- Bleeding in gastro intestine (determined by stool samples)
- Menstrual bleeding (heavy)
- Rash-like small red spots on the skin, called “petechiae”.
- Because of under-skin bleeding, there might appear small purplish spots, known as purpura.
How the test is performed
For performing the test, the blood sample of the person is necessary. Then, through different mechanical & chemical process, the lab technician identifies the total count of platelets in the blood sample.
Why are platelets tests done?
The number of the blood platelet can indicate many things, like the indication of a disease or disorder. It’s also necessary when diagnosing the causes of too much bleeding or clotting of a person.
What is healthy platelet count?
The normal count of platelet per microliter of blood is 150,000 to 450,000. If there are more platelets present in the blood, it’s the condition “thrombocytosis”. If the count is lower than 150,000, then it’s “thrombocytopenia”. The platelet count is also a part of the routine blood test CBC (Complete Blood Count).
What the abnormal test result means
Low Platelet Count
If there’s not enough platelet present in your blood, it the condition “thrombocytopenia”. The symptoms of this condition include easy bruising, frequent bleeding from gums, GI tract or nose. The platelet count is less because something inside your body is preventing platelet production. There are wide ranges of possible causes.
- An inherited health condition
- Some specific types of cancers like lymphoma or leukemia
- Kidney dysfunction/infection
- Intake of too much alcohol
High Platelet Count
The high platelet count is when the count is above 400,000 per microliter.
This condition is called “thrombocytosis”. Your body is creating too much platelet than recommended. Causes include –
- A certain type of anemia that causes RBCs in the blood being destroyed sooner than normal (hemolytic anemia)
- Anemia due to lower iron level and sickle cell disease
- Major surgery, trauma or certain infections
- Specific medicines
- Bone marrow disease (polycythemia vera)
- Bone marrow producing too many platelets for an unknown cause (primary thrombocythemia)
- Recent removal of spleen
Some people with higher level of platelets in their blood are at the risk of blood clots inside the blood vessel, causing serious medical and health problems.
Anything else I should know?
Increased platelet count may also be the result of high altitudes, the recent delivery of a baby (post-partum) or strenuous exercise. Certain drugs including birth control pills and estrogen cause higher platelet count.
Due to genetic defects, inherited disorders like Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia, Chediak-Higashi syndrome, May-Hegglin syndrome and Down syndrome etc. cause higher platelet counts. However, the occurrences of such abnormalities are quite rare.