My daughter was just diagnosed with ITP. How can I help protect her from bleeding and other complications?
The risk of uncontrollable bleeding is a real concern for people with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), also known as autoimmune thrombocytopenia. This condition causes too few blood-clotting cells (platelets) in the blood.
Many people, especially children, have low numbers of platelets in the blood, but not so low as to require immediate treatment. Instead the platelet count is carefully monitored and steps are taken to reduce the risk of bleeding.
Your doctor might suggest that you:
- Choose activities that are less likely to cause injury. Ask your doctor what activities might be safe for your child. The recommendations might be based on your child's platelet level, as lower levels may require more restrictions. In general, children might need to avoid sports that involve collisions, such as football, lacrosse and hockey.
- Pay attention to medications. Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect the normal function of platelets in the blood. Let all of your child's doctors know about her ITP diagnosis. Consider acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) for fever or pain, rather than aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), as these affect platelets.
- Tell your child's doctor about heavy periods. If your child menstruates and notices heavier-than-normal periods, tell your child's doctor. Treatments can help control periods or prevent periods to avoid severe bleeding.
- Know what signs to watch for. Signs of bleeding can include reddish dots on the skin that look like a rash, large bruises, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and heavy periods.
Talk with your child's doctor about other steps you can take to manage ITP complications. He or she might have specific recommendations based on your child's particular situation.
Rajiv K. Pruthi, M.B.B.S.
May 17, 2019
- Bussell JB. Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) in children: Initial management. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed April 25, 2019.