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Affinity Health Asks: What Is Thrombocytopenia?

Leading providers of affordable medical insurance, Affinity Health, demystify any fears about Thrombocytopenia.


“Big words are often used in the medical world. Thrombocytopenia is one of them,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“What is thrombocytopenia? Well, in simple terms, thrombocytopenia is a low platelet count. This illness can range in severity from mild to severe, depending on the underlying cause. Platelet levels often escalate. Escalations can occur when you treat the underlying cause or change medications.”

What Exactly Is a Low Platelet Count?

Blood comprises many cell types that float in a liquid called plasma. Blood cells have the following classifications:
  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Blood platelets (also called thrombocytes)


When you get injured, your skin breaks and begins to bleed. To stop the loss of blood, clotting factors in your blood coagulate to plug the skin. These platelet clots to block off the cut blood vessels so they stop bleeding and start healing.

Learn More: Blood Clots – Everything You Should Know

Yet, when your blood supply is low on platelets, your body can’t rally up enough platelets to produce clots. What would happen then? Your body can’t stop the bleeding.


Your platelet count may determine the severity of your thrombocytopenia symptoms. Each platelet has a lifespan of around ten days. Each day, your body can replenish your platelet supply. Your body does this by creating new platelets in your bone marrow.


A normal platelet count ranges from 150 000 to 450 000 platelets per microlitre of blood. But, if you have thrombocytopenia, your platelet count is far less. If you have thrombocytopenia, there may be less than 150 000 platelets per microlitre of blood.

Symptoms of thrombocytopenia include:
  • Red, purple, or brown bruises
  • Severe headaches
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Feeling weak or dizzy
  • Bleeding gums
  • A rash with tiny red or purple dots
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding from wounds that last for an extended amount of time or bleeding that does not stop on its own
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Internal bleeding (in the form of blood in your stool, urine, or vomit)

What Contributes to a Low Platelet Count?

There are many possible causes of a low platelet count. Possible causes include:


In some cases, thrombocytopenia can be genetic.

When Should You See a Doctor?

A low platelet count can be dangerous when left untreated. Therefore, you must seek medical attention if you have symptoms. To test your blood platelet count, your doctor may order a complete blood count and blood clot test. These measure the time it takes blood to clot.


The good news is that treatment is available to improve a low platelet count.  Your doctor will determine your treatment options. These options will depend on the underlying cause and severity of your problem.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance. We offer a wide range of cover options at affordable rates. Medical cover includes access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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