Because a low platelet count may not cause symptoms, the problem is often discovered when you have a blood test for another reason. If your doctor thinks you might have ITP, you are likely to have further blood tests that require drawing a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm. You are also likely to be referred to a doctor who specializes in blood disorders (hematologist) for further evaluation and treatment.
Appointments, even with specialists, can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, so it can help to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your appointment:
What you can do
- Write down all your symptoms — even those that seem unrelated to your current problem. Include key personal information, such as major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs that you're taking. Even better, take the original bottles to your appointment.
- Take along a family member or friend. It can be difficult to remember all of the information provided during an appointment. The person who accompanies you may remember something that you forgot or missed.
- Write down questions for your doctor. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to speak up when you don't understand something your doctor says. Start with the problems that concern you most. If you run out of time, ask to speak with a nurse or physician's assistant or leave a message for your doctor.
Questions you may want to ask include:
Apr. 23, 2013
- What tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and what do you recommend?
- What will happen if I do nothing?
- What are the possible side effects of the treatments you're suggesting?
- I have another health condition. How can I best treat these conditions together?
- How can I avoid those side effects?
- Can you refer me to a website or other source, so I can learn more about this condition?
- What is idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/itp/printall-index.html. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.
- Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=40. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.
- Stone CK, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=718. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.
- Guide to understanding ITP (immune thrombocytopenia). ITP Foundation. http://www.itpfoundation.org/itpdefined.htm. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.
- Arnold DM. Positioning new treatments in the management of immune thrombocytopenia. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2013;60:S19.
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/hematology_and_oncology/thrombocytopenia_and_platelet_dysfunction/immune_thrombocytopenic_purpura_itp.html. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.
- Bussel JB. Traditional and new approaches to the management of immune thrombocytopenia: Issues of when and who to treat. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America. 2009;23:1329.