Think back to your 6th-grade science books and you’ll remember studying about an important component of your blood called the platelets. Platelets play a crucial role in maintaining our health and any disease or disorder that affects their numbers in the blood can cause serious complications. Thus, blood tests are important as they help measure the levels of this important biomarker.
Platelets Aren’t Actual Cells!
Unlike other blood components like red blood cells and white blood cells, platelets are not actually cells. Your bone marrow produces large cells called megakaryocytes. This cell, upon entering the blood, gets fragmented into tiny platelets.
The average number of platelets in a healthy individual is 150,000 to 450,000 cells/microliters of blood.
Why is Platelet Count Essential?
The primary function of platelets is to assist in the blood clotting process. If you ever wondered how a small cut on your finger stops bleeding in a matter of seconds, you have your platelets to thank for that (among other things, of course!).
People who have low platelet levels suffer from bleeding disorders and minor injuries can cause major bruises as well as profuse, persistent bleeding. On the other hand, high levels of platelets in the blood can cause the body to form excessive clots. Additionally, these blood clots can block arteries and cause potentially fatal complications.
Thus, measuring the number of platelets in your blood is important to monitor your platelet levels.
How Do I Know I Have an Abnormal Platelet Count?
Abnormal levels of platelets in the blood can cause several classic signs and symptoms. So, if you experience any of these, you should visit a medical professional immediately.
Signs of low platelet levels:
- Extended bleeding
- Easy bruising
- Pinpoint hemorrhages on the skin
- Bleeding from the ears, gums, and nose
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Enlarged spleen/abdomen
- Blood in the urine and stool.
Signs of high platelet levels:
- Vision problems
- Tingling sensation in the skin
What Can You Do About it?
You should always check in with your doctor if you notice any of the classic clinical signs of an abnormal platelet count. Furthermore, depending upon the severity, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medicines or simply advise you to make changes in your lifestyle and diet.
Mild fluctuations in the platelet count can usually be rectified by keeping what you eat in check. People with Vitamin B deficiencies often are simultaneously deficient in platelets. Therefore, by consuming a diet rich in Vitamin B, this problem can be rectified. Some of these foods are beef, salmon, tuna, beans, lentils, and spinach. Additionally, avoiding sugary drinks and alcohol will also help normalize the level of platelets in your blood.
People that have low platelets are also advised to avoid sports and activities that present a risk of injuries such as football and boxing. Additionally, using things organic and chemical-free in your homes can also help bring your platelet count into the normal range.
The Bottom Line… Get Your Blood Tests Done!
Your platelet count can give a good indication of an underlying disease. Thus, if you suspect you might have abnormal platelet levels or if your symptoms worry you, don’t hesitate to get a detailed blood test done.
If you’re interested in learning more about platelets and how it affects your body, read on more about it in our biomarker post here!
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